DOI: 10.1161/circ.148.suppl_1.15709 ISSN: 0009-7322

Abstract 15709: Antagonist of Growth Hormone-Releasing Hormone Receptor Protects Against Cardiopulmonary Injury Induced by rVSV-SARS-CoV-2-S Virus Through Rag2 Regulation

Jose Manuel Condor, Emely Robleto, Ali Kamiar, Tengjiao Cui, Ali Saad, Amanda Wong, Jason Villano, Andrew Pekosz, Mark J Ranek, Keith A Webster, Andrew Schally, Robert M Jackson, Lina A Shehadeh
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

Background: SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) transmits a multi-systemic disease that can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome. Growth hormone-releasing hormone receptor (GHRH-R) and its splice variant are expressed in murine and human lung and heart. GHRH-R antagonist, MIA-602, has been shown to regulate inflammation in animal models and immune cell responses to bleomycin lung injury. Using a BSL2-compatible recombinant VSV-eGFP-SARS-CoV-2-S virus (rVSV-SARS-CoV-2-S) which mimics native SARS-CoV-2 infection in K18 hACE2tg mice, we tested our hypothesis that MIA-602 attenuates COVID-19-induced cardiopulmonary injury by reducing inflammation.

Methods: Male and female K18-hACE2tg mice were infected with SARS-CoV-2/USA-WA1/2020, rVSV-SARS-CoV-2-S, or PBS and lung viral load, weight-loss and histopathology were compared (N=8). Mice infected with rVSV-SARS-CoV-2-S were subject to daily subcutaneous injections of 10 μg MIA-602 or vehicle (control) starting at 24h post-infection. Pulmonary function was measured via whole-body plethysmography on day 0, day 3, and day 5 (n=7). Five days after viral infection mice were sacrificed, and blood and tissues collected for histopathological analyses, H&E staining, RNA and protein work. Heart and lung tissues were used for RNASeq (n=3 per group). T-test or One-way ANOVA-test was used for statistical analysis.

Results: SARS-CoV-2 and rVSV-SARS-CoV-2-S presented similar pathology for weight loss, infectivity (~60%) and histopathologic changes. Daily treatment with MIA-602 ameliorated weight loss, reduced lung inflammation, pneumonia and pulmonary dysfunction evidenced by rescued respiratory rate, expiratory parameters, and dysregulated airway parameters (p<.05). MIA-602 normalized the high expression of the inflammatory protein ICAM-1 in heart and lung (p<0.01), and master immune modulator Rag2 in lung (RNA:10-FC; Protein: 2-FC; p<.001).

Conclusions: The results indicate a possible role for pulmonary Rag2 in protecting against pulmonary dysfunction and heart/lung inflammation by peptide GHRH-R antagonist MIA-602 in a novel animal model of COVID-19 pneumonia.

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