1. Key Laboratory of Medical Electrophysiology, Ministry of Education, Drug Discovery Research Center, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, China.
2. College of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Affiliated Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan, China.
3. Laboratory for Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan, China.
4. Department of Pharmacy, the Affiliated Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this work.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), an infectious disease caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is a global pandemic that has high incidence rates, spreads rapidly, and has caused more than 6.5 million deaths globally to date. Currently, several drugs have been used in the clinical treatment of COVID-19, including antivirals (e.g., molnupiravir, baricitinib, and remdesivir), monoclonal antibodies (e.g., etesevimab and tocilizumab), protease inhibitors (e.g., paxlovid), and glucocorticoids (e.g., dexamethasone). Increasing evidence suggests that circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of viral infection and antiviral immune responses, including the biological processes involved in regulating COVID-19 infection and subsequent complications. During viral infection, both viral genes and host cytokines regulate transcriptional and posttranscriptional steps affecting viral replication. Virus-encoded miRNAs are a component of the immune evasion repertoire and function by directly targeting immune functions. Moreover, several host circulating miRNAs can contribute to viral immune escape and play an antiviral role by not only promoting nonstructural protein (nsp) 10 expression in SARS coronavirus, but among others inhibiting NOD-like receptor pyrin domain-containing (NLRP) 3 and IL-1β transcription. Consequently, understanding the expression and mechanism of action of circulating miRNAs during SARS-CoV-2 infection will provide unexpected insights into circulating miRNA-based studies. In this review, we examined the recent progress of circulating miRNAs in the regulation of severe inflammatory response, immune dysfunction, and thrombosis caused by SARS-CoV-2 infection, discussed the mechanisms of action, and highlighted the therapeutic challenges involving miRNA and future research directions in the treatment of COVID-19.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2, circulating miRNAs, virus infections, immune responses, COVID-19