Over the pandemic, researchers have come up with various findings — and hypotheses — about why men seem to be more vulnerable to Covid-19 than women. Now, a new study has suggesting the reason may be related to the concentration of a key enzyme in the blood of men and women.
The paper, published in the European Heart Journal on Monday, looks at the concentration of the enzyme ACE2 in blood. The role of ACE2 in Covid-19 is already established: It responds to the novel coronavirus and enables it to infect the human cell. The new, large study of several thousand patients found men have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood than women.
The researchers measured ACE2 concentrations in blood samples from several thousand heart failure patients from 11 European countries.
The study also found that heart failure patients taking a certain class of drugs (called RAAS inhibitors) did not have higher concentrations of ACE2 in their blood. Some recent research had suggested that RAAS inhibitors might increase ACE2 concentrations in blood plasma, thereby increasing the risk of Covid-19 for cardiovascular patients taking these drugs, but the new study indicates that this is not the case.
In a statement describing the study, the European Society of Cardiology discussed its limitations. The study looked only at ACE2 concentrations in plasma, not in tissues such as lung tissue, so they cannot be sure that concentrations in the blood are similar to those seen in tissues. It is the ACE2 in lung tissues that are thought to be key to lung infection.
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Also, the Cardiology Society statement said, the study cannot provide definitive evidence on the effects of RAAS inhibitors in Covid-19 patients. Its conclusions are mainly restricted to heart failure patients, and the patients did not have Covid-19.
Source: European Society of Cardiology
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