Impact Factor 2021: 3.041 (@Clarivate Analytics)
5-Year Impact Factor: 2.776 (@Clarivate Analytics)
Impact Factor Rank: 10/24, Q2 (Tropical Medicine)
  • Users Online: 203
  • Print this page
  • Email this page

Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 143-144

SARS-CoV-2 may impair pancreatic function via basigin: A single-cell transcriptomic study of the pancreas

School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou, China

Date of Submission30-Jul-2020
Date of Decision11-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance20-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication02-Feb-2021

Correspondence Address:
Qiu-Ran Wang
School of Basic Medical Sciences, Fujian Medical University, Fuzhou
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1995-7645.307811

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Wang QR. SARS-CoV-2 may impair pancreatic function via basigin: A single-cell transcriptomic study of the pancreas. Asian Pac J Trop Med 2021;14:143-4

How to cite this URL:
Wang QR. SARS-CoV-2 may impair pancreatic function via basigin: A single-cell transcriptomic study of the pancreas. Asian Pac J Trop Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 Feb 7];14:143-4. Available from:

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 infection is a major threat to global public health. SARS-COV-2 not only activates the human immune system but also causes severe damage to multiple organs by binding to specific virus receptors[1]. Basigin (BSG) is considered as the second important target for SARS-CoV-2 invasion after angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2)[2], which may mediate a variety of tissue damage, such as in the uterus[3] and brain[4]. Some patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 were reported to show pancreatic injuries or worsening of diabetes[5], but the pathogenic mechanism remains uncertain. Given the low level of ACE2 expression in the pancreatic tissue, we hypothesized that this pathogenicity process is mediated by other potential virus-binding receptors except ACE2, such as BSG. Therefore, we attempted to test this hypothesis through the analysis of sRNA-seq data.

The PanglaoDB database ([6] was selected to retrieve published scRNA-seq datasets. Each selected dataset contains more than 2 500 cells. First, the downloaded R data were converted to Seurat object. Then, the raw gene expression matrix was normalized with default parameters. The ‘FindVariableFeatures’ function was used to calculate the set of genes that showed the highest variation between individual cells. Each dataset returned 2 000 genes. After scaling the data related to 2 000 genes by the ScaleData function, the principal component analysis (PCA) was used to reduce the dimension of scaling. The ‘FindClusters’ function was used to set different resolution parameters. Next, the data was inputted into t-SNE and visualized in two dimensions. The most matching cluster was selected from multiple clusters generated by different parameters, and marker genes provided by the PanglaoDB database website were used to annotate the cells. Scatter plots, violin plots and the dot-plot were drawn for SARS-CoV-2 receptor-related genes to show their transcription levels and distributions in different types of cells.

In this study, three datasets were selected and combined: pancreatic islets (SRA701877:SRS3279692), pancreatic islets (SRA701877:SRS3279693), and pancreatic islets (SRA701877:SRS3279695). The samples sequenced from each dataset contained similar cell types. We found low transcript levels of ACE2, transmembrane protease serine 2 (TMPRSS2), and dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) in pancreatic cells. In contrast, BSG was highly expressed in most functional cell types of the pancreas [Figure 1], and BSG had the highest transcript level in the pancreatic α-cell group, followed by the PP cell group. Although the mRNA expression of BSG was not high in pancreatic β-cells, the proportional distribution of BSG indicated that most pancreatic β-cells contained BSG transcripts.
Figure 1: The expression level of ACE2, TMPRSS2, DDP4, and BSG in different cell types of human pancreas islet. (A) Scatter plots are visualized by RStudio software after data merging. The points colored blue are the cells expressing ACE2, TMPRSS2, DDP4 and BSG. (B) Violin plots show the gene expression level of ACE2, TMPRSS2, DDP4 and BSG in different cell types. (C) The size of the dot reflects the percentage of cells expressing a certain gene within a cell type, and color reflects the average expression level.

Click here to view

Compared to the other virus-receptors, BSG is widely distributed in pancreatic cells, which suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may affect pancreatic cells via this receptor. Since diabetes patients are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infections, and most pancreatic β-cells contained BSG transcripts, SARS-CoV-2 infection may further lead to the progression of diabetes. Thus, medical staff should pay more attention to diabetes patients who are in higher risk of getting this infection, and treat basic diseases as soon as possible to avoid the overlapping impacts of SARS-CoV-2 infection and diabetes.

Conflict of interest statement

The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Wang T, Du Z, Zhu F, Cao Z, An Y, Gao Y, et al. Comorbidities and multi-organ injuries in the treatment of COVID-19. Lancet 2020; 395(10228): e52.  Back to cited text no. 1
Ulrich H, Pillat MM. CD147 as a target for COVID-19 treatment: suggested effects of azithromycin and stem cell engagement. Stem Cell Rev Rep 2020; 16(3):434-440.  Back to cited text no. 2
Mahdian S, Shahhoseini M, Moini A. COVID-19 Mediated by Basigin can affect male and female fertility. Int J Fertil Steril 2020; 14(3): 262-263.  Back to cited text no. 3
Qiao J, Li W, Bao J, Peng Q, Wen D, Wang J, et al. The expression of SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 and CD147, and protease TMPRSS2 in human and mouse brain cells and mouse brain tissues. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2020; 533(4): 867-871.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bornstein SR, Rubino F, Khunti K, Mingrone G, Hopkins D, Birkenfeld A, et al. Practical recommendations for the management of diabetes in patients with COVID-19. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol 2020; 8(6): 546-550.  Back to cited text no. 5
Franzén O, Gan LM, Björkegren JLM. PanglaoDB: A web server for exploration of mouse and human single-cell RNA sequencing data. Database (Oxford) 2019; 2019: baz046. baz046.  Back to cited text no. 6


  [Figure 1]


    Similar in PUBMED
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded196    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal