ACE inhibition and cardiometabolic risk factors, lung ACE2 and TMPRSS2 gene expression, and plasma ACE2 levels: a Mendelian randomization study
Ana I. Hernandez Cordero,
Susanna C Larsson,
Sam M Lockhart,
Amy M Mason,
Alan C Lunt,
Willem hendrik Ouwehand,
David J. Roberts,
Maarten van den Berge,
Nicholas A Watkins,
Adam S Butterworth,
Barbara E Engelhard,
James E Peters,
Posted 14 Apr 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.04.10.20059121
Posted 14 Apr 2020
Objectives: To use human genetic variants that proxy angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drug effects and cardiovascular risk factors to provide insight into how these exposures affect lung ACE2 and TMPRSS2 gene expression and circulating ACE2 levels. Design: Two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis. Setting: Summary-level genetic association data. Participants: Participants were predominantly of European ancestry. Variants that proxy ACE inhibitor drug effects and cardiometabolic risk factors (body mass index, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lifetime smoking index, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and type 2 diabetes mellitus) were selected from publicly available genome-wide association study data (sample sizes ranging from 188,577 to 898,130 participants). Genetic association estimates for lung expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were obtained from the Gene-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project (515 participants) and the Lung eQTL Consortium (1,038 participants). Genetic association estimates for circulating plasma ACE2 levels were obtained from the INTERVAL study (4,947 participants). Main outcomes and measures: Lung ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression and plasma ACE2 levels. Results: There were no association of genetically proxied ACE inhibition with any of the outcomes considered here. There was evidence of a positive association of genetic liability to type 2 diabetes mellitus with lung ACE2 gene expression in GTEx (p = 4x10-4) and with circulating plasma ACE2 levels in INTERVAL (p = 0.03), but not with lung ACE2 expression in the Lung eQTL Consortium study (p = 0.68). There were no associations between genetically predicted levels of the other cardiometabolic traits with the outcomes. Conclusions: This study does not provide evidence to support that ACE inhibitor antihypertensive drugs affect lung ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression or plasma ACE2 levels. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, our findings do not support a change in ACE inhibitor medication use without clinical justification.
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