A team of European scientists has found that two genetic variations may show who is most likely to get sick and die from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. In addition, they found a blood type link, suggesting that some people are predisposed to severe COVID-19 disease.
The results of the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shed light on why some people are at higher risk of being infected with the coronavirus and the development of worsening symptoms.
In three separate studies, researchers from Columbia University, Iran Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, and various Chinese institutions have come to similar conclusions.
Image Credit: TippaPatt / Shutterstock
Respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients
The pathogenesis of severe COVID-19 and associated with respiratory failure is not yet clear, but the higher death rate is still linked to age and male. In addition, people with underlying medical conditions are more likely to develop serious COVID-19, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
The relative role of clinical risk factors in determining the severity of COVID-19 has not been clarified. Now, the new study highlights other predisposing factors that can make some people more vulnerable to infection.
New SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) highly infected with SARS-COV-2 viral particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. The Image Captured at the Integrated NIAID Research Facility (IRF) at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID
The team studied more than 1,900 critically ill coronavirus patients, in Spain and Italy, two of the hardest hit countries, at the height of the pandemic coronavirus. They compared patients from seven hospitals to 2,300 people who were not sick. Overall, they analyzed over 8 million single nucleotide polymorphisms and performed a meta-analysis of two cases – the control panels.
The team found that a group of variants in the genes that are involved in immune responses was more common in people with severe COVID-19. The genes are also associated with a cell surface protein known as the angiotensin 2 converting enzyme (ACE2), which the coronavirus uses to enter and infect cells in the body.
One group of genes increases the risk of getting serious COVID-19 by 77%. Researchers believe that the discovery of these groups of genes may accelerate the development of new vaccines and therapies for the disease’s coronavirus.
The researchers also found that people with blood type have a 45% increased risk of contracting the coronavirus and the development of respiratory failure compared to people with other blood types. On the other hand, people with type O blood have 35% less risk of developing serious COVID-19 disease.
Study: The ABO locus blood group and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associated with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis. Image Credit: Designua / Shutterstock
However, it is not clear why the type of blood could influence susceptibility to serious illness. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, noted that genes controlling blood type could play a role in the composition of the cell surface. Changes in cells of surface structures can influence the susceptibility of the cell to be infected with the new coronavirus.
“We also know from previous research that the blood type affects clotting risk, and it is now evident that critically ill patients with coronavirus demonstrate significant clotting,” Dr. Glatter explained.
The team stressed that their results may need validation and investigation. In this way, more information can be gathered on the link between the blood group and the severity of the coronavirus.
“Continued exploration of current results, both in terms of their usefulness in the clinical setting of risk profiles of patients with Covid-19 and towards an understanding of the mechanisms of the underlying pathophysiology, is justified” , they wrote on paper.
Global balance sheet
The pandemic coronavirus has ravaged around the world, actively spreading in many countries. The United States remains the country with the highest number of cases. The country of toll has exceeded 2,189 products million infections, and his death free of charge garnished with 118,000.
Brazil is behind the US, with more than staggering 978,000 infections since April. The death toll in the country has surpassed 47,000. Russia, India and the United Kingdom have reported an increasing number of infections, with more than 560,000, 366,000, and 301,000, respectively.
The Journal references:
- Primary Paper – Ellinghaus, D., Degenhardt, F., Buti, M., Bujanda, L., Invernizzi, P., Milani, C. et al. (2020). Genomewide Study of the Association of Graves Covid-19 with Respiratory Impairment. The New England Journal of Medicine. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2020283?query=featured_coronavirus#article_references
- Pre-Printing – Karlsen T, et al. The blood group ABO locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associated with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analyzes it. medRxiv By 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.05.31.20114991
- Iranian Study – Pourali, F. et al. (2020). Relationship between the Blood Group and the Risk of Infection and Death in COVID-19: live Meta-Analysis. medRxiv. https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.07.20124610.
- Study Chinese – Relationship between the ABO Blood Group and COVID-19 Susceptibility, Jiao Zhao Yan Yang, Hanping Huang Dong Li, Dongfeng Gu, Xiangfeng Lu, Zheng Zhang Lei Liu, Ting Liu, Yukun Liu, Yunjiao Il, Bin Soleil, Meilan Wei, Yang Guangyu, Xinghuan Wang, Li Zhang, Xiaoyang Zhou, Mingzhao Xing, Peng George Wang, medRxiv 2020.03.11.20031096; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.11.20031096
- University of Colombia Study – Testing the association between blood type and COVID-19 of infection, intubation and death, Michael Zietz, Nicolas P. Tatonetti, medRxiv 2020.04.08.20058073; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.08.20058073