BackgroundCoronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is caused by severe acute –respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS- CoV-2) through interaction of the spike protein (SP) with the receptor-binding domain (RBD) and its receptor, angiotensin converting enzyme 2(ACE2). Repair mechanisms induced following virus infection can restore the protective barrier through wound healing. Then, cells from the epithelial basal layer repopulate the damaged area, followed by cell proliferation and differentiation, as well as changes in gene expression.MethodsUsing Beas-2B cells and SP, we investigated whether ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) contributes to restoration of the bronchial epithelial layer. ACE2 expression was measured by RT-PCR and Western blotting. SP–ACE2 interaction was analyzed by flow cytometry and visualized through immunostaining. Cell migration was assessed using single cell path tracking and wound healing assay.ResultsUpon ACE2 overexpression in HeLa, HEK293T, and Beas-2B cells following the transfection of pCMV-ACE2 plasmid DNA, SP binding on each cell was increased in the ACE2 overexpression group compared to pCMV-transfected control cells. SP treatment delayed the migration of BEAS-2B cells compared to the control. SP also reduced cell migration, even under ACE2 overexpression; SP binding was greater in ACE2-overexpressed cells than control cells. UDCA interfered significantly with the binding of SP to ACE2 under our experimental conditions. UDCA also restored the inhibitory migration of Beas-2B cells induced by SP treatment.ConclsionOur data demonstrate that UDCA can contribute to the inhibition of abnormal airway epithelial cell migration. These results suggest that UDCA can enhance the repair mechanism, to prevent damage caused by SP–ACE2 interaction and enhance restoration of the epithelial basal layer.

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