The role of Neuropilin-1 in COVID-19
Neuropilin-1 (NRP-1), a member of a family of signaling proteins, was shown to serve as an entry factor and potentiate SARS Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infectivity in vitro. This cell surface receptor with its disseminated expression is important in angiogenesis, tumor progression, viral entry, axonal guidance, and immune function. NRP-1 is implicated in several aspects of a SARS-CoV-2 infection including possible spread through the olfactory bulb and into the central nervous system and increased NRP-1 RNA expression in lungs of severe Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Up-regulation of NRP-1 protein in diabetic kidney cells hint at its importance in a population at risk of severe COVID-19. Involvement of NRP-1 in immune function is compelling, given the role of an exaggerated immune response in disease severity and deaths due to COVID-19. NRP-1 has been suggested to be an immune checkpoint of T cell memory. It is unknown whether involvement and up-regulation of NRP-1 in COVID-19 may translate into disease outcome and long-term consequences, including possible immune dysfunction. It is prudent to further research NRP-1 and its possibility of serving as a therapeutic target in SARS-CoV-2 infections. We anticipate that widespread expression, abundance in the respiratory and olfactory epithelium, and the functionalities of NRP-1 factor into the multiple systemic effects of COVID-19 and challenges we face in management of disease and potential long-term sequelae.