Interactions of Spike-RBD of SARS-CoV-2 and Platelet Factor 4: New Insights in the Etiopathogenesis of Thrombosis.
Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Aug 9 ;22(16). Epub 2021 Aug 9. PMID: 34445266
The rare but dangerous adverse events evidenced after massive vaccination against SARS-CoV-2 are represented by thrombosis and thrombocytopenia. The patients diagnosed with severe COVID-19 may develop a pro-thrombotic state with a much higher frequency, thus we decided to investigate the role of Spike protein (the only common product of the two conditions) or the anti-Spike antibodies in the etiopathogenesis of thrombosis. A pathogenic Platelet Factor 4 (PF4)-dependent syndrome, unrelated to the use of heparin therapy, has been reported after the administration of vaccines in the patients manifesting acute thrombocytopenia and thrombosis. Thus, we aimed at shedding light on the structural similarities of Spike of SARS-CoV-2 and PF4 on their eventual biochemical interactions and on the role of their specific antibodies. The similarities between PF4 and Spike-RBD proteins were evaluated by a comparison of the structures and by testing the cross-reactivity of their specific antibodies by ELISA assays. We found that the anti-Spike antibodies do not recognize PF4, on the contrary, the anti-PF4 antibodies show some cross-reactivity for Spike-RBD. More interestingly, we report for the first time that the PF4 and Spike-RBD proteins can bind each other. These data suggest that the interaction of the two proteins could be involved in the generation of anti-PF4 antibodies, their binding to Spike-RBD, which could lead to platelets aggregation due also to their high expression of ACE2.