COVID-19 Heart Issues: Researchers Confirm SARS-CoV-2 Virus Attacks Heart Directly Via ACE-2 Receptors Found In Cardiomyocytes
COVID-19 Heart Issues
: To date more than 22% of all COVID-19-associated deaths are from cardiac complications, yet the mechanisms from which these complications arise have remained a topic of debate in the cardiology community.
One common hypothesis centers on the infection of the heart itself, but the understanding of which cells may be infected is unclear.
In order to address this, MMRI Assistant Professor Dr Nathan Tucker, in collaboration with the Broad Institute, the University of Pennsylvania, and Bayer US, conducted a detailed research in which they discovered and reported on the distribution of the SARS-CoV-2 receptors in the heart tissue.
SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infects cells through a particular cellular molecule, termed ACE2. To assess levels of this molecule in different patient populations and in response to common hypertension medications (ACE inhibitors), the group applied state-of-the-art single nucleus sequencing technologies in human heart samples.
From these studies, they were able to conclude that the amount of the viral receptor is increased in patients with pre-existing cardiac conditions, but only in the beating cells of the heart, termed cardiomyocytes. Additionally, they found that the effect of anti-hypertension medications, termed ACE inhibitors, do not appreciably affect the levels of ACE2 in a way that would support any changes in clinical use of these medications.
The research findings are published in the journal of the American Heart Association: Circulation https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.047911
Dr Tucker, the first author of the research told Thailand Medical News, "This is but an early step in our understanding of cardiac pathology in individuals who contract COVID-19.There's much more work to do. As an example, we are already working to establish direct evidence of cardiac infection, while also examining receptor distributions in other populations and through other approaches. We hope to provide more information as soon as we are able."
Although just a piece in a very complex puzzle, this study offers a potential explanation as to why patients with pre-existing heart disease are more likely to suffer severe cardiac symptoms from COVID-19 infection. Importantly, it also provides data on the effects of anti-hypertensive medications, supporting the previous statements urging continued use of ACE inhibitors from the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology, and European Society of Cardiology with additional human-derived data.
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