The S1 protein of SARS-CoV-2 crosses the blood–brain barrier in mice

Elizabeth M. Rhea, Aric F. Logsdon, Kim M. Hansen, Lindsey M. Williams, May J. Reed, Kristen K. Baumann, Sarah J. Holden, Jacob Raber, William A. Banks, Michelle A. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is unclear whether severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, which causes coronavirus disease 2019, can enter the brain. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 binds to cells via the S1 subunit of its spike protein. We show that intravenously injected radioiodinated S1 (I-S1) readily crossed the blood–brain barrier in male mice, was taken up by brain regions and entered the parenchymal brain space. I-S1 was also taken up by the lung, spleen, kidney and liver. Intranasally administered I-S1 also entered the brain, although at levels roughly ten times lower than after intravenous administration. APOE genotype and sex did not affect whole-brain I-S1 uptake but had variable effects on uptake by the olfactory bulb, liver, spleen and kidney. I-S1 uptake in the hippocampus and olfactory bulb was reduced by lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammation. Mechanistic studies indicated that I-S1 crosses the blood–brain barrier by adsorptive transcytosis and that murine angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 is involved in brain and lung uptake, but not in kidney, liver or spleen uptake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)368-378
Number of pages11
JournalNature Neuroscience
Volume24
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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