PREPRINT: Intestinal inflammation modulates the expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and potentially overlaps with the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 related disease

Immune dysregulation and cytokine release syndrome have emerged as pathological hallmarks of severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), leading to the evaluation of cytokine antagonists as therapeutic agents. A number of immune-directed therapies being considered for COVID-19 patients are already in clinical use in chronic inflammatory conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These considerations led us to systematically examine the intersections between COVID-19 and the GI tract during health and intestinal inflammation. We have observed that IBD medications, both biologic and non-biologic, do not significantly impact ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression in the uninflamed intestines. Additionally, by comparing SARS CoV2-induced epithelial gene signatures with IBD-associated genes, we have identified a shared molecular subnetwork between COVID-19 and IBD. These data generate a novel appreciation of the confluence of COVID-19- and IBD-associated inflammation and provide mechanistic insights supporting further investigation of specific IBD drugs in the treatment of COVID-19.

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