Coronavirus infection breaks bonds between particular cellular protein and blood that leads to numb of the pain of people infected with Covid-19. A person has time to spread the virus before he/she becomes aware of the diagnosis as the scientists stated.
Rajesh Khanna, the professor of the pharmacology of the University of Arizona, shared that he started to study the role of the protein neuropilin-1 in six months before the pandemic.
“We were inspired by two preliminary reports that appeared on the preprint server BioRxiv that showed that the infamous spike proteins on the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus bound to a protein called neuropilin-1,” the scientist said.
According to Khanna, the virus can also use this protein to invade nerve cells as well as through the ACE2 protein.
Neuropilin-1 allows the spike to get into the cell. Usually, the protein controls the growth of the blood vessels, the growth and survival of neurons. However, if neuropilin-1 links to with naturally occurring protein known as Vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), it leads to pain. This signal is transmitted through the spinal cord into higher brain centers, causing the pain sensation.
The previous studies showed the connection between VEGF-A and pain. For example, the studies for people with osteoarthritis showed that the increased activity VEGF gene in fluids lubricating joints is associated with higher pain scores.
“In in vitro studies done in my lab using nerve cells, we showed that when spike binds to neuropilin-1 it decreases pain signaling, which suggests that in a living animal it would also have a pain-dulling effect,” the scientist noted.
He underlined that when the protein-spike binds to the neuropilin-1 protein, it blocks the VEGF-A protein. Such a binding suppresses the excitability of pain neurons, leading to lower sensitivity to pain.
Rajesh Khanna noted that his studies might give a new impetus for the development of drugs for Covid-19 treatment.
As we reported, the world's first drug for coronavirus infection, which was created on the plasma of patients who recovered from the disease, was presented in Lublin, Poland.