Depriving Iron Supply to the Virus Represents a Promising Adjuvant Therapeutic Against Viral Survival

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Purpose of the review: The ongoing outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia (COVID-19) caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in China is lifting widespread concerns. Thus, therapeutic options are urgently needed, and will be discussed in this review. Recent findings: Iron-containing enzymes are required for viruses most likely including coronaviruses (CoVs) to complete their replication process. Moreover, poor prognosis occurred in the conditions of iron overload for patients upon infections of viruses. Thus, limiting iron represents a promising adjuvant strategy in treating viral infection through oral uptake or venous injection of iron chelators, or through the manipulation of the key iron regulators. For example, treatment with iron chelator deferiprone has been shown to prolong the survival of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients. Increasing intracellular iron efflux via increasing iron exporter ferroportin expression also exhibits antiviral effect on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The implications of other metals besides iron are also briefly discussed. Summary: For even though we know little about iron regulation in COVID-19 patients thus far, it could be deduced from other viral infections that iron chelation might be an alternative beneficial adjuvant in treating COVID-19.

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