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Potential causes for sex differences in morbiditiy and mortality in Covid-19 patients
Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility (IRF) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: NIAID
Could sex/gender differences in the ACE2 expression in the lungs contribute to the large gender disparity in morbidity and mortality of patients infected with Sars-CoV-2 virus?
The severity and especially mortality of the new coronavirus disease Covid-19 shows significant gender differences, as men with this disease often become more seriously ill and die more often than women. The cause of the sex differences is not yet known, but in our article we presented the hypothesis that the cause is a sex difference in the expression of the ACE2 gene in the lungs.
The ACE2 gene is the entry point for the Sars-Cov-2 virus, and although no data are yet available for the lungs, this gene is differently expressed between the sexes under the influence of sex hormones in some other tissues such as the kidneys and fat tissue. If men have a higher expression of ACE2 in their lungs, this could mean that more virus can enter their body, which could lead to a more serious course of the disease and higher mortality. If such differences are modulated by sex hormones, they may also be able to affect ACE2 expression in patients with Covid-19 disease and could be thus used to influence the disease progress in human patients.
The full article is available at the following link.
Author: prof. dr. Gregor Majdič
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