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Explained: How women are protected by protein that lets in coronavirus

The research has looked at why female COVID-19 patients face less severe disease complications and a lower risk of dying than male patients.

By: Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 20, 2020 10:34:48 am
Why are men more susceptible to Covid-19 than women? (Getty Images, Representational)

The human enzyme ACE2, which enables the novel coronavirus to infect the cell, is also key in protecting against cardiovascular, lung and kidney diseases. And, new research has found, it may be offering protection to women against Covid-19 disease.

The research has looked at why female COVID-19 patients face less severe disease complications and a lower risk of dying than male patients, and found that it is thanks to hormones and chromosomes that contribute to a stronger immune response. And the highlight of the study is how the sex differences in Covid-19 are linked to ACE2.

Because of their chromosomes, women have two copies of the ACE2 gene and men have only one copy. This does not seem to make women more susceptible to Covid-19 infection, the research found, it rather protects them from the complications associated with the virus.

ACE2 is a gene linked to the X chromosome. And women have twice as many active genetic instructions to make ACE2. 📣 Follow Express Explained on Telegram

Research is underway to understand how manipulating ACE2 levels might help Covid-19 patients, to prevent infection by blocking the enzyme, or to protect the body by enhancing it.

The study was led by researchers at University of Alberta. It is published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

Source: University of Alberta

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