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Original Research

Open Access Special Issue

SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Influences Expression of ICOSL and ICAM-2 in Prostate Cancer

  • McKay Echols1,†
  • Zuliang Deng2,†
  • Coby Powers3
  • Huaping Xiao1,2
  • Ziwen Zhu3
  • Marco Lequio1,3
  • Samuel Leung3
  • Qian Bai3
  • Mark R. Wakefield3
  • Yujiang Fang1,3,*,

1Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Pathology, Des Moines University, Des Moines, IA 50312, USA

2The Center of Early Screening and Diagnosis of Gastrointestinal Tumors of Affiliated Hospital of Xiangnan University, 423000 Chenzhou, Hunan, China

3Department of Surgery, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, MO 65212, USA

DOI: 10.31083/j.jomh1810201 Vol.18,Issue 10,October 2022 pp.1-9

Published: 26 October 2022

(This article belongs to the Special Issue COVID-19 and sex differences: is the men at risk?)

*Corresponding Author(s): Yujiang Fang E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


Background: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the novel coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. The viral protein of SARS-CoV-2, spike protein (SP), mediates entry into host cells, contributing to pathogenesis of COVID-19. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the United States. Inducible T-cell costimulator ligand (ICOSL) and intercellular cell adhesion molecule 2 (ICAM-2) are expressed in cancer cells and their roles in cancer growth remain controversial. It is unknown if SP can affect the expression of ICAM-2 or ICOSL in prostate cancer. This study investigated the effects of SARS-CoV-2 SP on the expression of ICAM-2 and ICOSL and the time-dependent effect of SP on growth and survival of prostate cancer cells. Methods: The effect of SARS-CoV-2 SP on the survival of a widely-used prostate cancer cell line, LNCaP, was assessed using clonogenic cell survival assay and quick cell proliferation assay. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) were performed to investigate the expression of ICAM-2 and ICOSL. The survival of an additional prostate cancer cell line, PC-3, was also evaluated by clonogenic survival assay. Results: After 3 days, a significant decrease in the percentage of colonies in LNCaP cells treated with SP was found, which was paralleled by a decrease in optical density (OD) value in LNCaP cells in the presence of SP. A significant decrease in the percentage of colonies treated with SP was also found in PC-3 cells evaluated by clonogenic survival assay. In addition, the mRNA expression of ICAM-2 was lower, whereas the mRNA expression of ICOSL was higher in SP-treated LNCaP cells. This was supported by protein expressions for ICAM-2 and ICOSL evaluated with IHC. Conclusions: In LNCaP cells, SARS-CoV-2 SP downregulates the expression of ICAM-2 but upregulates the expression of ICOSL. SARS-CoV-2 SP inhibits growth of prostate cancer cells in a time-dependent manner. Further studies are needed to fully address the roles of ICAM-2 and ICOSL in the inhibition prostate cancer growth by SARS-CoV-2 SP.


SARS-CoV-2; spike protein; prostate cancer; ICAM-2; ICOSL

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McKay Echols,Zuliang Deng,Coby Powers,Huaping Xiao,Ziwen Zhu,Marco Lequio,Samuel Leung,Qian Bai,Mark R. Wakefield,Yujiang Fang. SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein Influences Expression of ICOSL and ICAM-2 in Prostate Cancer. Journal of Men's Health. 2022. 18(10);1-9.


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