Defensin 5 for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 invasion and Covid-19 disease

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Corona virus disease 2019 (Covid-19), a pandemia emerged recently, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The receptor for corona virus and influenza A is the mucosal cell membrane protein angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which is abundant on the membrane of alveolar cells and enterocytes. Viral spike protein 1 (S1) is the ligand, with an affinity of 14.7 nM to the receptor. The main port of entry for the virus is the upper respiratory tract, and the diagnosis is usually by PCR of the viral RNA with nasal and pharyngeal swab test. Human defensin 5 (HDEF5) is a protein encoded by the DEFA gene, secreted by Paneth cells in the small intestine and by granules of neutrophils. It has an affinity of 39.3 nM to ACE2, much higher than that of the corona S1. HDEF5 may also attach to glycosylated Corona S1 protein, make its efficiency even better. The issues to be investigated are the affinity of HDEF5 to S1 protein, the ability of recombinant HDEF5 function in attaching both ACE2 and S1, and the feasibility to perform aerosol spray of this protein. In addition, safety and efficiency should be studied in phases I, II and II clinical protocols. Thus, an aerosol spray of HDEF5 given through the nose and throat, once to several times a day, may be a very efficient approach to prevent infection with SARA-CoV-2 as well as influenza A.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110244
JournalMedical Hypotheses
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • ACE2
  • Covid-19
  • Defensin 5
  • Paneth cell
  • SARS-CoV-2


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