[sPLA2-IIA] In other words, this enzyme is trying to kill the virus, but at a certain point it is released in such high amounts that things head in a really bad direction, destroying the patient's cell membranes and thereby contributing to multiple organ failure and death. — Floyd (Ski) Chilton, director of the UArizona Precision Nutrition and Wellness Initiative
[sPLA2-IIA] In other words, this enzyme is trying to kill the virus, but at a certain point it is released in such high amounts that things head in a really bad direction, destroying the patient's cell membranes and thereby contributing to multiple organ failure and death. — Floyd (Ski) Chilton, director of the UArizona Precision Nutrition and Wellness Initiative
Like venom coursing through the body: Researchers identify mechanism driving COVID-19 mortality
Researchers have identified what may be the key molecular mechanism responsible for COVID-19 mortality -- an enzyme related to neurotoxins found in rattlesnake venom.

sPLA2-IIA, which has similarities to an active enzyme in rattlesnake venom, is found in low concentrations in healthy individuals and has long been known to play a critical role in defense against bacterial infections, destroying microbial cell membranes.

When the activated enzyme circulates at high levels, it has the capacity to "shred" the membranes of vital organs, said Floyd (Ski) Chilton, senior author on the paper and director of the UArizona Precision Nutrition and Wellness Initiative housed in the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"It's a bell-shaped curve of disease resistance versus host tolerance," Chilton said. "In other words, this enzyme is trying to kill the virus, but at a certain point it is released in such high amounts that things head in a really bad direction, destroying the patient's cell membranes and thereby contributing to multiple organ failure and death."

... "Many patients who died from COVID-19 had some of the highest levels of this enzyme that have ever been reported," said Chilton, who has been studying the enzyme for over three decades.


... The role of the sPLA2-IIA enzyme has been the subject of study for half of a century and it is "possibly the most examined member of the phospholipase family," Chilton explained.

Charles McCall, lead researcher from Wake Forest University on the study, refers to the enzyme as a "shredder" for its known prevalence in severe inflammation events, such as bacterial sepsis, as well as hemorrhagic and cardiac shock.

Previous research has shown how the enzyme destroys microbial cell membranes in bacterial infections, as well as its similar genetic ancestry with a key enzyme found in snake venom.

... "Roughly a third of people develop long COVID, and many of them were active individuals who now can't walk 100 yards. The question we are investigating now is: If this enzyme is still relatively high and active, could it be responsible for part of the long COVID outcomes that we're seeing?"
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210824135358.htm