Novel high-yield potato protease inhibitor panels block a wide array of proteases involved in viral infection and crucial tissue damage

Nienke Visser, Laure C M Herreman, Jennifer Vandooren, Rafaela Vaz Sousa Pereira, Ghislain Opdenakker, Robin E J Spelbrink, Maarten H Wilbrink, Edwin Bremer, Reinoud Gosens, Martijn C Nawijn, Heidi H van der Ende-Metselaar, Jolanda M Smit, Marc C Laus, Jon D Laman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Downloads (Pure)


Viruses critically rely on various proteases to ensure host cell entry and replication. In response to viral infection, the host will induce acute tissue inflammation pulled by granulocytes. Upon hyperactivation, neutrophil granulocytes may cause undue tissue damage through proteolytic degradation of the extracellular matrix. Here, we assess the potential of protease inhibitors (PI) derived from potatoes in inhibiting viral infection and reducing tissue damage. The original full spectrum of potato PI was developed into five fractions by means of chromatography and hydrolysis. Individual fractions showed varying inhibitory efficacy towards a panel of proteases including trypsin, chymotrypsin, ACE2, elastase, and cathepsins B and L. The fractions did not interfere with SARS-CoV-2 infection of Vero E6 cells in vitro. Importantly, two of the fractions fully inhibited elastin-degrading activity of complete primary human neutrophil degranulate. These data warrant further development of potato PI fractions for biomedical purposes, including tissue damage crucial to SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis. KEY MESSAGES: Protease inhibitor fractions from potato differentially inhibit a series of human proteases involved in viral replication and in tissue damage by overshoot inflammation. Protease inhibition of cell surface receptors such as ACE2 does not prevent virus infection of Vero cells in vitro. Protease inhibitors derived from potato can fully inhibit elastin-degrading primary human neutrophil proteases. Protease inhibitor fractions can be produced at high scale (hundreds of thousands of kilograms, i.e., tons) allowing economically feasible application in lower and higher income countries.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21-Feb-2024

Cite this