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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Explained: In heart cells, clues why Covid-19 is severe in the elderly

Certain genes in the body, which play an important role in allowing the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 to invade heart cells, become more active with age, according to the research.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | August 20, 2020 10:19:36 am
Blanca Ortiz, 84, talks to a nurse as she is being dismissed from the Eurnekian Ezeiza Hospital, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, several weeks after being admitted with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Researchers have published findings that provide one more clue about the reason why Covid-19 infection tends to be more severe with age. Certain genes in the body, which play an important role in allowing the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 to invade heart cells, become more active with age, according to the research published in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology.

When the novel coronavirus first emerged, it was taken to be primarily a respiratory illness. But as research has progressed, it has become clear that Covid-19 patients, particularly older ones, are also affected by heart problems.

An international team of researcher investigated the link between Covid-19 and heart failure. Specifically, they examined cells known as cardiomyocytes, which make up the heart muscle and are able to contract the relax. Damage to these cells can lead to heart failure.

The researchers compared cardiomyocytes from five young (ages 19-25) makes and five older (63-78) males. They found that the genes that give the body instructions to make key proteins that the virus uses to hijack the cell — including the now well-known ACE2 receptors — were significantly more active in cardiomyocytes from the older males. This suggests that there is likely to be an increase in the corresponding proteins in aged cardiomyocytes.

Source: University of Cambridge

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