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Drugs for Multiple Sclerosis Activate Natural Killer Cells: Do They Protect Against COVID-19 Infection?

Authors Al-Ani M, Elemam NM, Hundt JE, Maghazachi AA

Received 28 June 2020

Accepted for publication 7 September 2020

Published 22 September 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 3243—3254

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/IDR.S269797

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Suresh Antony


Mena Al-Ani1 *,* Noha Mousaad Elemam1 *,* Jennifer Elisabeth Hundt,2 Azzam A Maghazachi1

1Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine and the Immuno-Oncology Group, Sharjah Institute for Medical Research, University of Sharjah, Sharjah 27272, United Arab Emirates; 2Lübeck Institute for Experimental Dermatology, University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Azzam A Maghazachi
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Medicine and Sharjah Institute for Medical Research, University of Sharjah, Sharjah 27272, United Arab Emirates
Email [email protected]

Abstract: COVID-19 infection caused by the newly discovered coronavirus severe acute respiratory distress syndrome virus-19 (SARS-CoV-2) has become a pandemic issue across the globe. There are currently many investigations taking place to look for specific, safe and potent anti-viral agents. Upon transmission and entry into the human body, SARS-CoV-2 triggers multiple immune players to be involved in the fight against the viral infection. Amongst these immune cells are NK cells that possess robust antiviral activity, and which do not require prior sensitization. However, NK cell count and activity were found to be impaired in COVID-19 patients and hence, could become a potential therapeutic target for COVID-19. Several drugs, including glatiramer acetate (GA), vitamin D3, dimethyl fumarate (DMF), monomethyl fumarate (MMF), natalizumab, ocrelizumab, and IFN-β, among others have been previously described to increase the biological activities of NK cells especially their cytolytic potential as reported by upregulation of CD107a, and the release of perforin and granzymes. In this review, we propose that such drugs could potentially restore NK cell activity allowing individuals to be more protective against COVID-19 infection and its complications.

Keywords: NK cells, multiple sclerosis, COVID-19

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