COVID-19 Research: Schizophrenics Or Prospective Schizophrenics Less Likely To Develop Severity From SARS-CoV-2 Due To Mutated Human rs4702 Gene!
: Good news for most of the mental asylums as most of their inmates are less likely to suffer from the COVID-19 severity due to the fact that they are likely to possess a mutated variant of the human gene Rs4702 according a new vitro study from Icahn School of medicine that shows how human genes affects the COVID-19 disease besides numerous other factors and comorbidities.
The mutated version (allelic conversion from AA to GG) of the human gene rs4702 is linked to schizophrenia.
For the rest of the human populations possessing the non-mutated version of the human gene rs4702, it was found that the gene actually aids the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus to replicate faster in the human body especially in the brain. Hence even if those infected do not suffer the severity effects of the infection, they are at a higher risk of developing long term neurological issues.
The study that shows individuals with the unique genetic mutation may have less severe Covid-19 symptoms in published on a preprint server and is pending peer review. https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.20.300574v1
The study findings showed that a mutation of the gene could suppress the reproduction of the virus, the researchers found, but individuals carrying this mutation tended to have problems with their neurons that were linked to schizophrenia and other mental disorders, according to some previous studies.
The study findings add to mounting evidence that “common genetic variation can impact viral infection”, said the research team led by Dr Kristen Brennand, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
It has been observed that the severity of the Covid-19 disease varied from one person to another, even within the same age group. Some young and healthy patients died while others remained free of symptoms.
Nearly 20 per cent of Covid-19 cases in China developed severe or critical conditions, according to a study published by the China Medical Treatment Expert Group for Covid-19 in the New England Journal of Medicine in April. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2002032
In June, French researchers reported in the same journal that a third of patients studied had neurological symptoms, such as inattention, disorientation or poorly organised movements. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2008597
Dr Brennand’s team infected human neurons carrying the rs4702 gene with a small dose of Sars-CoV-2. In 24 hours, the viral copies increased nearly 150,000 times. They then induced the mutation of the rs4702 gene in the neurons with gene editing technology. The number of viral copies dropped to about a third.
It is already known that variation in human genes is known to affect the deadliness of an infectious disease. Chinese people for example are more vulnerable to the H1N1 flu virus than Europeans, for instance. Part of the reason, according to an Oxford University study published in the
journal Nature in 2013, is because of a mutation that was much more prevalent among Chinese than white people. The mutation could increase the risk of severe or critical symptoms six-fold. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22446628/
It was found that the rs4702 gene controlled the production of furin, an enzyme critical for the proper functioning of many proteins. The gene not only occurred in the brain but also in lung and gut cells, according to Dr Brennand and her colleagues.
The study team believes that the Sars-CoV-2 virus had “hijacked” furin to initiate a series of binding mechanisms that would eventually lead to the fusion of the viral envelope, or outermost layer, and the host cell membrane. Such an ability simply enabled by a unique four-letter insertion in the virus’s genetic codes was not seen in other coronaviruses such as Sars, according to the researchers.
Past studies by Dr Brennand’s team and others found the mutation of the rs4702 gene can lead to reduced neuron growth and altered activity. These changes were considered common risk factors for schizophrenia, a serious mental disorder that can result in hallucinations, delusions and extreme thinking or behavior.
Dr Brennand added, “Even though the mutation might reduce viral replication in individual patients, it might not be good news for the control of the pandemic by “permitting low levels of virus to spread successfully while remaining undetected by the immune system.”
Interestingly doctors in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first Covid-19 outbreak was first reported, were the first to observe different outcomes among patients with different blood types that were closely related to genes.
Subsequently European researchers reported genetic variants that affected the generation of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, a protein used by the virus to enter the host cell in the Italian population. Scientists from many countries have also launched a worldwide collaboration to track the most relevant genes in this global health crisis.
Dr Brennand added, “Hopefully these efforts will help to better identify high-risk individuals.”
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