Literature Review (Grey)
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus responsible for COVID-19, binds to its receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), and replicates within the cells of the nasal cavity, then spreads along the airway tracts, causing mild clinical manifestations, and, in a majority of patients, a persisting loss of smell. In some individuals, SARS-CoV-2 reaches and infects several organs, including the lung, leading to severe pulmonary disease. SARS-CoV-2 induces neurological symptoms, likely contributing to morbidity and mortality through unknown mechanisms. Sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) is a bioactive sphingolipid with pleiotropic properties and functions in many tissues, including the nervous system. S1P regulates neurogenesis and inflammation and it is implicated in multiple sclerosis (MS). Notably, Fingolimod (FTY720), a modulator of S1P receptors, has been approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and is being tested for COVID-19. In this review, the authors discuss the putative role of S1P on viral infection and in the modulation of inflammation and survival in the stem cell niche of the olfactory epithelium. This could help to design therapeutic strategies based on S1P-mediated signaling to limit or overcome the host-virus interaction, virus propagation and the pathogenesis and complications involving the nervous system.