Nrf2 is a transcription factor that regulates cellular redox balance and the expression of a wide array of genes involved in immunity and inflammation, including antiviral actions. Nrf2 activity declines with age, making the elderly more susceptible to oxidative stress-mediated diseases, which include type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, and viral infections. Published evidence suggests that Nrf2 activity may regulate important mechanisms affecting viral susceptibility and replication. We examined gene expression levels by GeneChip microarray and by RNA-seq assays. We found that the potent Nrf2-activating composition PB125®
mRNA expression in human liver-derived HepG2 cells. ACE2
is a surface receptor and TMPRSS2
activates the spike protein for SARS-CoV-2 entry into host cells. Furthermore, in endotoxin-stimulated primary human pulmonary artery endothelial cells, we report the marked downregulation by PB125 of 36 genes encoding cytokines. These include IL-1-beta, IL-6, TNF-α, the cell adhesion molecules ICAM-1, VCAM-1, and E-selectin, and a group of IFN-γ-induced genes. Many of these cytokines have been specifically identified in the “cytokine storm” observed in fatal cases of COVID-19, suggesting that Nrf2 activation may significantly decrease the intensity of the storm.
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