The COVID‐19 pandemic has now affected around 190 million people worldwide, accounting for more than 4 million confirmed deaths. Besides ongoing global vaccination, finding protective and therapeutic strategies is an urgent clinical need. SARS‐CoV‐2 mostly infects the host organism via the respiratory system, requiring angiotensin‐converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2) to enter target cells. Therefore, these surface proteins are considered potential druggable targets. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gasotransmitter produced by several cell types and is also part of natural compounds, such as sulfurous waters that are often inhaled as low‐intensity therapy and prevention in different respiratory conditions. H2S is a potent biological mediator, with anti‐oxidant, anti‐inflammatory, and, as more recently shown, also antiviral activities. Considering that respiratory epithelial cells can be directly exposed to H2S by inhalation, here we tested the in vitro effects of H2S‐donors on TMPRSS2 and ACE2 expression in human upper and lower airway epithelial cells. We showed that H2S significantly reduces the expression of TMPRSS2 without modifying ACE2 expression both in respiratory cell lines and primary human upper and lower airway epithelial cells. Results suggest that inhalational exposure of respiratory epithelial cells to natural H2S sources may hinder SARS‐CoV‐2 entry into airway epithelial cells and, consequently, potentially prevent the virus from spreading into the lower respiratory tract and the lung.
Hydrogen sulfide inhibits tmprss2 in human airway epithelial cells: Implications for sars‐cov‐2 infection / Pozzi, G.; Masselli, E.; Gobbi, G.; Mirandola, P.; Taborda-barata, L.; Ampollini, L.; Carbognani, P.; Micheloni, C.; Corazza, F.; Galli, D.; Carubbi, C.; Vitale, M.. - In: BIOMEDICINES. - ISSN 2227-9059. - 9:9(2021), p. 1273.1273. [10.3390/biomedicines9091273]