Study: High levels of an enzyme in men used by new coronavirus to infect cells

KUALA LUMPUR (May 11): A study has shown that men’s blood has higher levels of “a key enzyme” compared with women that is used by the virus that causes Covid-19 to infect cells, Reuters reported.

This latest study published in the European Heart Journal “may help explain” men’s greater propensity to infection by the new coronavirus.

The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) “is thought to play a role in how the infection progresses into the lungs”, said the report.

According to the study, drugs called ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), however, did not lead to higher ACE2 concentrations and “should therefore not increase the Covid-19 risk for people taking them”.

Such drugs are usually taken by those with congestive heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease.

“Our findings do not support the discontinuation of these drugs in COVID-19 patients,” said professor of cardiology at the University Medical Center (UMC) Groningen, Adriaan Voors, told Reuters. Voors co-led the study on the enzyme.

“When we found that one of the strongest biomarkers, ACE2, was much higher in men than in women, I realised that this had the potential to explain why men were more likely to die from Covid-19 than women,” said Iziah Sama, another doctor at UMC Groningen.

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