Targeting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway: A therapeutic strategy in COVID-19 patients  

Rasha Abu Eid* (Corresponding Author), Frank Ward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Some COVID-19 patients suffer complications from anti-viral immune responses which can lead to both a dangerous cytokine storm and development of blood-borne factors that render severe thrombotic events more likely. The precise immune response profile is likely, therefore, to determine and predict patient outcomes and also represents a target for intervention. Anti-viral T cell exhaustion in the early stages is associated with disease progression. Dysregulation of T cell functions, which precedes cytokine storm development and neutrophil expansion in alveolar tissues heralds damaging pathology.
T cell function, cytokine production and factors that attract neutrophils to the lung can be modified through targeting molecules that can modulate T cell responses.
Manipulating T cell responses by targeting the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway could provide the means to control the immune response in COVID-19 patients. During the initial anti-viral response, T cell effector function can be enhanced by delaying anti-viral exhaustion through inhibiting PI3K and Akt. Additionally, immune dysregulation can be addressed by enhancing immune suppressor functions by targeting downstream mTOR, an important intracellular modulator of cellular metabolism. Targeting this signalling pathway also has potential to prevent formation of thrombi due to its role in platelet activation. Furthermore, this signalling pathway is essential for SARS-cov-2 virus replication in host cells and its inhibition could, therefore, reduce viral load.
The ultimate goal is to identify targets that can quickly control the immune response in COVID-19 patients to improve patient outcome. Targeting different levels of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR signalling pathway could potentially achieve this during each stage of the disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 15 Sep 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • PI3K
  • Akt
  • mTOR
  • Immune modulation
  • Thrombosis

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