Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is responsible for the current pandemics of coronavirus disease, known as COVID-19. This virus can attack the cells of the airway epithelium by binding its spike protein to the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) with the help of the transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2). Both proteins, ACE2 and TMPRSS2, are localized in the cholesterol-rich lipid rafts of the cell membrane. After this binding the SARS-CoV-2 can enter the cells via endocytosis.
The purpose of our research group is to test natural molecules contained in typical plants of the Mediterranean diet. The tests, in vivo, in vitro and bioinformatic approaches, are of fundamental importance to investigate the beneficial properties of natural molecules.
In particular, we tested whether two compounds, alpha-cyclodextrin and hydroxytyrosol, could reduce the endocytosis of the SARS-CoV-2. Hydroxytyrosol is extracted from olive leaves and fruits and has antiviral properties and can reduce the serum lipids in mice fed with high-cholesterol diets, indirectly modifying the composition of the plasma membrane in addition hydroxytyrosol directly interacts with the hydrophilic heads of the plasma membrane. Alpha-cyclodextrin can deplete phospholipids and sphingolipids from the cell membrane. Sphingolipids, together with cholesterol, form the lipid rafts where ACE2 localizes. Polyphenols from olive trees, of which hydroxytyrosol and alpha-cyclodextrin, may play a key role in improving defenses against SARS-CoV-2.
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*“None of the reported studies or the patent can be used to claim the properties of dietary supplements. Dietary supplements do not possess any therapeutic or preventive properties.”