Effects of Drugs Formerly Suggested for COVID-19 Repurposing on Pannexin1 Channels

Although many efforts have been made to elucidate the pathogenesis of COVID-19, the underlying mechanisms are yet to be fully uncovered. However, it is known that a dysfunctional immune response and the accompanying uncontrollable inflammation lead to troublesome outcomes in COVID-19 patients. Pannexin1 channels are put forward as interesting drug targets for the treatment of COVID-19 due to their key role in inflammation and their link to other viral infections. In the present study, we selected a panel of drugs previously tested in clinical trials as potential candidates for the treatment of COVID-19 early on in the pandemic, including hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine, azithromycin, dexamethasone, ribavirin, remdesivir, favipiravir, lopinavir, and ritonavir.
The effect of the drugs on pannexin1 channels was assessed at a functional level by means of measurement of extracellular ATP release. Immunoblot analysis and real-time quantitative reversetranscription polymerase chain reaction analysis were used to study the potential of the drugs to alter pannexin1 protein and mRNA expression levels, respectively. Favipiravir, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir, and the combination of lopinavir with ritonavir were found to inhibit pannexin1 channel activity without affecting pannexin1 protein or mRNA levels. Thusthree new inhibitors of pannexin1 channels were identified that, though currently not being used anymore for the treatment of COVID-19 patients, could be potential drug candidates for other pannexin1-related diseases.

  • Authors: Anne Caufriez, Andrés Tabernilla, Raf Van Campenhout, Axelle Cooreman, Kaat Leroy, Julen Sanz Serrano, Prashant Kadam, Bruna dos Santos Rodrigues, Arthur Lamouroux, Steven Ballet, and Mathieu Vinken
  • Journal: International Journal of Molecular Sciences 23: 5664.

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