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Transcription Factor Nrf2 as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Prevention of Cytokine Storm in COVID-19 Patients

R. A. Zinovkin1,2,3,a* and O. A. Grebenchikov4

1Belozersky Institute of Physico-Chemical Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119991 Moscow, Russia

2Institute of Mitoengineering, Lomonosov Moscow State University, 119992 Moscow, Russia

3Institute of Molecular Medicine, Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), 119991 Moscow, Russia

4Negovsky Research Institute of General Reanimatology, Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, 107031 Moscow, Russia

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received May 30, 2020; Revised June 4, 2020; Accepted June 4, 2020
Nrf2 is a key transcription factor responsible for antioxidant defense in many tissues and cells, including alveolar epithelium, endothelium, and macrophages. Furthermore, Nrf2 functions as a transcriptional repressor that inhibits expression of the inflammatory cytokines in macrophages. Critically ill patients with COVID-19 infection often present signs of high oxidative stress and systemic inflammation – the leading causes of mortality. This article suggests rationale for the use of Nrf2 inducers to prevent development of an excessive inflammatory response in COVID-19 patients.
KEY WORDS: Nrf2, SARS-CoV-2, COVID-19, cytokine storm, oxidative stress

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297920070111