Host Response Mediators in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection - Is There a Protective Effect of Losartan on Outcomes of Coronavirus Infection?

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    University of British Columbia
Updated on 26 July 2021


SARS-CoV-2 is a member of a class of viruses: angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)-binding viruses that we call "ABVs". The World Health Organization (WHO) and others are performing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of vaccines and novel antivirals to address SARS-CoV-2 directly. However, the critical illness complications of COVID-19 are caused in part by SARS-CoV-2's binding and inhibiting ACE2 and the consequent host response.

ACE 2 is the receptor for H1N1, H5N1, and SARS-CoV-2. After binding ACE2, SARS-CoV-2 is endocytosed, and surface ACE2 is down-regulated, increasing angiotensin II (ATII a potent vasoconstrictor) in COVID-19. The original ARB, losartan, limits lung injury in murine influenza H7N9 and decreases viral titre and RNA.

We have a unique opportunity to complement vaccine and anti-viral RCTs with an RCT modulating the host response using an angiotensin II type 1 receptor blocker (ARB, losartan) to decrease the mortality of hospitalized COVID-19 patient.


PURPOSE: There is clinical equipoise around the safety and efficacy of ARBs in COVID-19, but there are few RCTs of ARBs in COVID-19. Guo and colleagues' meta-analysis showed that ARBs/ACE inhibitor use was associated with decreased mortality[29]. Our structured literature review (Cheng et al., submitted) shows that SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses that bind ACE2 cause acute cardiac injury in nearly 50% of cases. Safety concerns of ARBs in COVID-19 arise because ARBs increase cardiac ACE2[30], potentially increasing SARS-CoV-2 cellular uptake and worsening outcomes. On the other hand, ARBs block the effects of excess angiotensin II and could be beneficial. Our proposed ARBs CORONA II Phase 3 RCT will establish whether losartan can decrease mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.


Primary - Losartan (25 to 50 to 100 mg daily) decreases mortality and is safe in hospitalized COVID-19 infected adults compared to standard of care.

Secondary - ACE pathway proteins (aka RAS components) (ATI, AT1-7, ATII, ACE and ACE2 levels), cytokines and metabolomics/proteomics predict mortality and efficacy of losartan in hospitalized COVID-19 adults

RESEARCH DESIGN: We will assess losartan (25-50-100 mg daily) vs. usual care for safety and efficacy in decreasing organ dysfunction and mortality of hospitalized adults with COVID-19. Dr. Srinivas Murthy, a co-investigator herein and PI of the SOLIDARITY RCT in Canada (CATCO), Dr. John Marshall, co-investigator herein and PI of REMAPCAP, and Dr. Russell have coordinated alignment by allowing co-enrollment.

Condition Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, COVID19
Treatment losartan
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04606563
SponsorUniversity of British Columbia
Last Modified on26 July 2021

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