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The enzyme that serves as a coronavirus entry to people with COPD and smokers

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Updated:04/09/2020 01:30

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People with disease Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and smokers are especially vulnerable to the disease caused by the coronavirus COVID-19. The reason is that they have higher levels of a molecule, called angiotensin II converting enzyme (ACE-2), in your lungs.

The molecule ACE-2Located on the surface of lung cells, it is the “entry point” that allows the coronavirus to enter cells in the lungs and cause an infection. Now, the study published in the “European Respiratory Journal” indicates that these people have high numbers of ACE-2 in your lungs and also shows that levels of ACE-2 in ex-smokers are lower than in smokers.

“The information we have from China suggests that COPD patients are at increased risk of complications if they become infected with COVID-19. We -sure Janice Leung, of the University of British Columbia and St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver, Canada -. We think this could be because elevated ACE-2 levels in your airways may make it easier for you to the virus infects the airways».

This study suggests that there has never been a better time to quit smoking to protect yourself from COVID-19. ”

The team studied samples taken from the lungs of 21 COPD patients Y 21 people without the disease. They analyzed the samples to measure the level of ACE-2 and compared the data with other factors, such as from people who had never smoked, were smokers, or ex-smokers. They not only found higher levels of ACE-2 in COPD patients, but also in smokers.

The researchers then compared their findings with two existing study groups, which together contain data from other 249 people: non-smokers, current smokers and ex-smokers. Again they saw that the levels of ACE-2 were taller in current smokers but lower in non-smokers and those who were former smokers.

“We found that COPD patients and smokers have higher levels of ACE-2 in their airways, which could increase your risk of developing serious COVID-19 infections. COPD patients should receive advice, strictly abide by social distancing and proper hand hygiene to prevent infections, “says the research coordinator.

COPD patients should receive advice, strictly abide by social distancing and proper hand hygiene to prevent infections.

“We also found that ex-smokers had similar levels of ACE-2 than people who had never smoked. This suggests that there has never been a better time to quit smoking to protect yourself from COVID-19».

For Tobias Welte, of the European Respiratory Society and is coordinator of the German national working group COVID-19, which was not involved in the study, ‘This study offers an interesting idea of ​​why some people pThey may be at risk for more severe COVID-19 symptoms than others.. What it doesn’t tell us is if it’s possible manipulate ACE-2 levels to improve survival in patients infected with COVID-19 or if this would make a difference in COPD patients who get the infection. “

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