Neurological Aspects of SARS-Cov-2 Infection: Lipoproteins and Exosomes as Trojan Horses

Sin Man Lam, Xun Huang, Guanghou Shui

Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism
DOI: 10.1016/j.tem.2022.04.011


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) primarily targets lipid-producing cells for viral tropism. In this review, we connect systemic lipid couriers, particularly high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) and exosomes, with the neurological facets of SARS-CoV-2 infection. We discuss how SARS-CoV-2 preferentially targets lipid-secreting cells and usurps host cell lipid metabolism for efficient replication and systemic spreading. Besides providing natural veils for viral materials against host immunity, the inherent properties of some of these endogenous lipid particles to traverse the blood–brain barrier (BBB) also offer alternative routes for SARS-CoV-2 neurotropism. Importantly, virus-driven neurological aberrations mediated by HDLs and exosomes are fueled by lipid rafts, which are implicated in the production and transmigration of these lipid particles across the BBB. Finally, we discuss how repurposing existing drugs targeting lipid rafts and cholesterol homeostasis may be beneficial toward alleviating the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease burden.