Background Numerous studies have been conducted on different aspects of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2, since its emergence in late 2019. Mutual relations among SARS-CoV-2 and neuro-pathophysiological phenomena are continuously being demonstrated, and several underlying diseases, such as those in the elderly, are positively correlated with susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The expression of angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is required for SARS-CoV-2 infection, was recently demonstrated to be increased in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients.
Methods Recent preclinical studies have shown that Neuropilin-1 (NRP1), which is a transmembrane protein with roles in neuronal development, axonal outgrowth, and angiogenesis, also plays a role in the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2. Thus, we hypothesized that NRP1 may be upregulated in AD patients and that a correlation between AD and SARS-CoV-2 NRP1-mediated infectivity may exist. We used an AD mouse model that mimics AD and performed high throughput total RNA-seq with brain tissue and whole blood. For quantification of NPR1 in AD, brain tissues and blood were subjected to western blotting and RT-qPCR analysis. In silico analysis for NRP1 expression in AD patients has been performed on the human hippocampus data sets (GSE4226, GSE1297).
Results Many cases of severe symptom of COVID-19 are concentrated in elderly group who have complications such as diabetes, degenerative disease, and brain disorders. Total RNA-seq analysis showed that Nrp1 gene was commonly overexpressed in AD model. Similar to ACE2, NRP1 protein also strongly expressed in the AD brain tissues. Interestingly, in silico analysis revealed that the level of expression for NRP1 was distinct at age and AD progression.
Conclusions Given that the NRP1 is highly expressed in AD, it will be important to understand and predict that NRP1 may a risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection in AD patients. This will support to development of potential therapeutic drug to reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission.