Disclaimer: I am a scientist, but this is not my main field so sorry if I've not used the correct terminology at this busy time...

Since the coronavirus protein bonds with and gains entry to the cell by bonding to ACE2 receptor, does anyone happen to be currently working upon inhibition of the ACE2 receptor?

Obviously it's not straight forward just to use an inhibitor of some sort without accounting for side effects, but is this form of therapy a potentially practical avenue?

I anticipate that this relationship with ACE2 is why we get pneumonia with COVID19 since ACE2 is abundant in the lungs, heart and kidneys... And that perhaps it's why people with cardiovascular disease and problems have the highest mortality?

From my understanding, there would be potential cardiac and renal issues. Possibly the negative effects of inhibitors may be reduced or managed by IV infusion of angiotensin 1-7, or supporting drugs (I.e. a vasodilator) as ACE2 won't be able to work on converting angiotensin 2?

To anyone whom is working in this area specifically, what I am really asking is, is this a viable avenue to consider, as a management strategy to reduce spread of the virus in-vivo?

The infection route and effects make me wonder how many people that recover from COVID19 may unfortunately suffer later cardiological or renal issues due to damage in ACE2 expression within the lungs... And not just lung damage from the virus or resulting pneumonia. (I.e fibrosis of cardiac tissues, etc)

I've found this: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijpep/2012/256294/ Which seems to suggest that it has been studied to an extent in animals, but find limited information.

*** Note I'm talking about ACE2 inhibition not ACE inhibitors that are often used in heart failure

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    Answered here I think medicalsciences.stackexchange.com/questions/21540/… Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 1:26
  • Thank you, I did miss that, very interesting. However it discusses compounds that inhibit ace2, but I was more asking for viability as a treatment to reduce spread within infected patients, rather than the specific compounds that could be employed? Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 1:30
  • Ok, not your field. Blood pressure medications i.e. ACE inhibitors, do this. This leads to upregulation of more ACE2 receptors which presents a greater number of attack points for the virus. But who knows without trial data? And it may be the virus is able to bind more avidly to the receptor. Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 1:33
  • I know inhibition of ACE would upreg ACE2 and cause more issues, cardiac pharmacology is something I have a specific interest in. But using one of the compounds you mentioned in the other question, would it likely that ACE2 inhibition would have a tangible effect? Obviously part of the point of asking is seeking if I'm looking at a dead end or not... Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 1:39
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    ACE2 inibition is not something to be taken lightly; it causes kidney damage. I don't tink (I'm not sure) there are any drugs on the market to inhibit these receptor sites; I've only read about animal experiments. Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 1:45

1 Answer 1


The problem appears to be that the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to the ACE2 receptor and carries the receptor into the cell where the RNA of the virus is then released. Because the cell now lacks ACE2 surface receptors this leads to intracellular damage due to lack of inhibition of AT1-R in the Renin Angiotensin System.

The cells that are damaged in the lung are deep alveolar cells that make surfactant and this collapses the alveoli causing Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. interestingly lung infiltrates are seen early in the disease hence the use in China of CT chest scans for screening before rapid PCR became available. ACE2 are also found widely throughout the heart and gut the latter where it assists enzymes that are transporting amino acids. The ACE2 receptor bearing cells are found in cardiac tissue, lung, gut, macrophages etc and the main clinical effect of their loss of function is to cause cardiopulmonary damage.

if you were to create a drug that targeted the ACE2 receptor then you would be replicating the deleterious effect of the virus which inter alia blocks the protective effect of ACE2 on pulmonary and renal damage.

There's been some experimental work showing that a fully humanised soluble ACE2 receptor can bind to the virus and blocks entry into the ACE2 bearing cells. It works like a neutralising antibody to the virus.

This treatment is currently awaiting Chinese FDA approval for clinical trials.

Josef Penninger https://youtu.be/jAW6VBWTiAA

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