Biochemical, biophysical, and immunological characterization of respiratory secretions in severe SARS-CoV-2 infections.
2022; 7 (12)
Thick, viscous respiratory secretions are a major pathogenic feature of COVID-19, but the composition and physical properties of these secretions are poorly understood. We characterized the composition and rheological properties (i.e., resistance to flow) of respiratory secretions collected from intubated COVID-19 patients. We found the percentages of solids and protein content were greatly elevated in COVID-19 compared with heathy control samples and closely resembled levels seen in cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease known for thick, tenacious respiratory secretions. DNA and hyaluronan (HA) were major components of respiratory secretions in COVID-19 and were likewise abundant in cadaveric lung tissues from these patients. COVID-19 secretions exhibited heterogeneous rheological behaviors, with thicker samples showing increased sensitivity to DNase and hyaluronidase treatment. In histologic sections from these same patients, we observed increased accumulation of HA and the hyaladherin versican but reduced tumor necrosis factor-stimulated gene-6 staining, consistent with the inflammatory nature of these secretions. Finally, we observed diminished type I interferon and enhanced inflammatory cytokines in these secretions. Overall, our studies indicated that increases in HA and DNA in COVID-19 respiratory secretion samples correlated with enhanced inflammatory burden and suggested that DNA and HA may be viable therapeutic targets in COVID-19 infection.
View details for DOI 10.1172/jci.insight.152629
View details for PubMedID 35730564
Oral hymecromone decreases hyaluronan in human study participants.
The Journal of clinical investigation
2022; 132 (9)
BACKGROUNDHyaluronan (HA), an extracellular matrix glycosaminoglycan, has been implicated in the pathophysiology of COVID-19 infection, pulmonary hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, and other diseases, but is not targeted by any approved drugs. We asked whether hymecromone (4-methylumbelliferone [4-MU]), an oral drug approved in Europe for biliary spasm treatment that also inhibits HA in vitro and in animal models, could be repurposed as an inhibitor of HA synthesis in humans.METHODSWe conducted an open-label, single-center, dose-response study of hymecromone in healthy adults. Subjects received hymecromone at 1200 (n = 8), 2400 (n = 9), or 3600 (n = 9) mg/d divided into 3 doses daily, administered orally for 4 days. We assessed safety and tolerability of hymecromone and analyzed HA, 4-MU, and 4-methylumbelliferyl glucuronide (4-MUG; the main metabolite of 4-MU) concentrations in sputum and serum.RESULTSHymecromone was well tolerated up to doses of 3600 mg/d. Both sputum and serum drug concentrations increased in a dose-dependent manner, indicating that higher doses lead to greater exposures. Across all dose arms combined, we observed a significant decrease in sputum HA from baseline after 4 days of treatment. We also observed a decrease in serum HA. Additionally, higher baseline sputum HA levels were associated with a greater decrease in sputum HA.CONCLUSIONAfter 4 days of exposure to oral hymecromone, healthy human subjects experienced a significant reduction in sputum HA levels, indicating this oral therapy may have potential in pulmonary diseases where HA is implicated in pathogenesis.TRIAL REGISTRATIONClinicalTrials.gov NCT02780752.FUNDINGStanford Medicine Catalyst, Stanford SPARK, Stanford Innovative Medicines Accelerator program, NIH training grants 5T32AI052073-14 and T32HL129970.
View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI157983
View details for PubMedID 35499083