ABSTRACT

To date SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2), a member of the Coronaviridae family, has infected more than 40 million people worldwide. A second wave of SARS-CoV-2 infection is aggressively surging. The clinical worsening of SARS-CoV-2 infection appears to be strictly associated with comorbidities, which can be used to establish an intrinsic patient network whose molecular profile is pivotal for identifying and successfully treating populations at risk. Herein, we focus on the direct interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and virus-associated cancers, exploring the critical role of interleukin-6 (IL-6) as a mediator of this complex cross talk. IL-6 production is enhanced in diverse viral infections ranging from human papilloma virus (HPV) to hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and SARS-CoV-2 infection. High systemic levels of IL-6 are associated with viral persistence and poor clinical outcomes in SARS-CoV-2–infected patients. Blockade of IL-6/IL-6R, using specific molecules, is under investigation in active clinical trials for the treatment of patients with SARS-CoV-2. Although the data are as yet inconclusive, they pave the way for selective targeting of crucial cytokine-activated aberrant signaling in SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Competing Interests

Source of Support: Supported in part by grant of Research Project Regione Lazio - Lazio-Innova, funded under L.R. 13/08. Conflict of Interest: None