The study "Gene silencing of endothelial von Willebrand factor reduces the susceptibility of human endothelial cells to SARS-CoV-2 infection", conducted by the Translational Critical Care Medicine Unit of the Laboratory of Basic and Applied Medical Sciences of the Interdisciplinary Research Center "Health Science" of the Sant'Anna School together with the Retrovirus Center of the University of Pisa, receives the prestigious Paul Dudley White International Scholar Award during the Vascular Discovery 2023, the American Heart Association's showcase dedicated to the most innovative discoveries for vascular medicine.
The paper, the only Italian to receive an award, is dedicated to researching the mechanisms underlying the endotheliopathy responsible for the long-term symptoms present in those who develop Long COVID syndrome after being cured of COVID19. Endotheliopathy, or the activation in a pro-coagulant sense of the endothelium in patients recovering from COVID-19, is a very common phenomenon characterized by various thromboembolic events. High plasma levels of pro-coagulant factors, such as von Willebrand factor, which is also expressed by endothelial cells and is involved in angiotensin II damage, have been found in patients with Long COVID syndrome. Numerous evidences have shown that Long COVID is due to persistence or reactivation in small doses of Sars-CoV-2.
"With this study", explains Vincenzo Lionetti, professor of the Translational Critical Care Medicine Unit of the Laboratory of Basic and Applied Medical Sciences of the Interdisciplinary Research Center "Health Science" of the Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, "we found that von Willebrand factor makes endothelial cells more susceptible to coronavirus infection. A step forward for the development of new therapies and diagnostic approaches to defend against Long Covid".
The full article is published in the FEBS Journal, the journal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, available at this link: https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/febs.16808
On the cover: Vincenzo Lionetti