Cellular and molecular mechanisms driving morbidity following SARS-CoV-2 infection have not been well defined. The receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) is a central mediator of tissue injury and contributes to SARS-CoV-2 disease pathogenesis. In this study, we temporally delineated key cell and molecular events leading to lung injury in mice following SARS-CoV-2 infection and assessed efficacy of therapeutically targeting RAGE to improve survival. Early following infection, SARS-CoV-2 replicated to high titers within the lungs and evaded triggering inflammation and cell death. However, a significant necrotic cell death event in CD45– populations, corresponding with peak viral loads, was observed on day 2 after infection. Metabolic reprogramming and inflammation were initiated following this cell death event and corresponded with increased lung interstitial pneumonia, perivascular inflammation, and endothelial hyperplasia together with decreased oxygen saturation. Therapeutic treatment with the RAGE antagonist FPS-ZM1 improved survival in infected mice and limited inflammation and associated perivascular pathology. Together, these results provide critical characterization of disease pathogenesis in the mouse model and implicate a role for RAGE signaling as a therapeutic target to improve outcomes following SARS-CoV-2 infection.


Forrest Jessop, Benjamin Schwarz, Dana Scott, Lydia M. Roberts, Eric Bohrnsen, John R. Hoidal, Catharine M. Bosio


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