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ACE2 levels are altered in comorbidities linked to severe outcome in COVID-19

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

Posted 05 Jun 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.06.04.20122044

Aims: Severity of outcome in COVID-19 is disproportionately higher among the obese, males, smokers, those suffering from hypertension, kidney disease, coronary heart disease (CHD) and/or type 2 diabetes (T2D). We examined if serum levels of ACE2, the cellular entry point for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, were altered in these high-risk groups. Methods: Associations of serum ACE2 levels to hypertension, T2D, obesity, CHD, smokers and males in 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). Results: Smokers, males, and individuals with T2D or obesity have altered serum levels of ACE2 that may influence productive infection of SARS-CoV-2 in these high-risk groups. Conclusion: ACE2 levels are upregulated in some patient groups with comorbidities linked to COVID-19 and as such may have an emerging role as a circulating biomarker for severity of outcome in COVID-19.

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