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Antihypertensive medication uses and serum ACE2 levels

By Valur Emilsson, Elias F Gudmundsson, Thor Aspelund, Brynjolfur G Jonsson, Alexander Gudjonsson, Lenore J Launer, Lori L Jennings, Valborg Gudmundsdottir, Vilmundur Gudnason

Posted 25 May 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.05.21.20108738

Importance Recent reports have shown that hypertension is the most common comorbidity associated with mortality in the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This has been related to the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) as animal studies indicate that these medications increase levels of ACE2, the cellular entry point for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. This has prompted clinicians to recommend discontinuing ACEIs and ARBs. Objective To examine the effect of ACEIs or ARBs treatment on serum levels of ACE2 and other key enzymes in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). Design, Setting, and Participants A single center population-based study of 5457 Icelanders from the Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility Reykjavik Study (AGES-RS) of the elderly (mean age 75+/-6 years) stratified by ACEIs (N = 699) or ARBs (N = 753) treatment. Main Outcomes and Measures The AGES-RS study population was stratified by ACEIs and ARBs medication use and compared for age, body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2), hypertension and type 2 diabetes (T2D) as well as serum levels of renin, ACE and ACE2. Results While renin and ACE levels were significantly raised in serum of individuals on ACEIs or ARBs treatments, the ACE2 levels remained unaffected. Conclusions and Relevance Treatment with ACEIs or ARBs does not raise ACE2 levels in serum. Therefore, the present study does not support the proposed discontinuation of these medications among patients affected with COVID-19.

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