The new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, has caused millions of infections worldwide. Over time, it’s becoming increasingly clear that COVID-19 is not a cookie-cutter disease.
People vary widely in their susceptibility to infection, symptoms, and severity of illness. Clearly, some risk factors play a role. Could genes play a role, too?
Researchers are studying the role of genes in people’s reactions to the virus. Although the data is not conclusive, it does suggest that some of your genes may influence how SARS-CoV-2 affects your health.
Read on to find out what the research revealed.
To look for genes that may influence the impact of COVID-19, geneticists are screening the DNA of large study groups. This helps them to find and identify connections between DNA sequences and disease characteristics.
Early genetic studies have revealed compelling evidence that certain genetic variants and blood types may play a role in how people react to SARS-CoV-2.
ACE2 . receptors
Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors are proteins found on the surface of certain cells. ACE2 receptors generate other proteins that regulate cell function. ACE2 receptors also allow SARS-CoV-2 to enter your cells.
ACE2 receptors are found in the lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body. Helps regulate blood pressure and heal wounds and infections.
Everyone has ACE2 receptors, but the amount and location of them varies.
The same study also found that people with a certain type of genetic variation in ACE2 were more likely to develop SARS infection. Another finding was an increased susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection in men compared to women.
Cytokines are proteins released by cells. Cytokines help cells communicate with each other. They also regulate inflammation and the body’s immune response to infection.
A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the immune system to infection from an invading host, such as SARS-CoV-2. During a cytokine storm, your cells release a lot of cytokines. This causes high levels of inflammation and increased activity of certain immune cells.
The results of a cytokine storm can be severe and include tissue damage, organ failure, and sometimes death.
Chromosome 3 and the ABO . gene
A large study analyzed genes located along an extension of chromosome 3. The study found compelling information about specific genes and their potential impact on respiratory failure caused by COVID-19.
Researchers have identified a gene cluster on chromosome 3 associated with susceptibility to respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients. According to the researchers, the genetic kit confirmed that the ABO blood group played a role, indicating a higher risk of respiratory failure from COVID-19 for people with blood type A.
human leukocyte antigen (HLA)
The HLA The gene helps regulate your body’s immune response.
A 2021 review found that people who have some HLA Alleles were more susceptible to COVID-19 and severe disease than the general population.
If you were assigned a male at birth, you may be at a higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. While some data indicate
Men tend to express higher amounts of the ACE2 enzyme, which makes them more susceptible to COVID-19. a
The study also highlights genes in men that may make them more susceptible to infection and genes in women that may help them fight infection.
There are also genes on the X chromosome that affect your immune response. There are about 55 times as many of these genes in the X chromosome as in the Y chromosome.
Since men only have one copy of the X chromosome, differences in the genes on that chromosome may have a greater impact on how COVID-19 progresses.
It is also important to remember that genetic traits are sometimes combined between people of the same nationality, race or culture. This can skew study results, especially in places where poor living conditions or poverty are factors.
With that, three 2021 studies (1,
Again, more research is needed before we can fully understand the true effect.
COVID-19 is known to present with a variety of symptoms. While some symptoms are common, the virus tends to affect people in many different ways. Your genes may play a role here, too.
A 2021 study linked COVID-19 to altered gene expression in certain tissues or cells. This suggests that some genetic differences may make you more likely to experience certain symptoms.
The study also indicated that some of the genes they studied were also linked to race. This means that some symptoms may be more common in certain ethnic groups.
Researchers and geneticists share their findings about genetics and COVID-19 through the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative.
As more studies are done, the biological pathways that influence your susceptibility to this disease or your natural immunity may become clearer.
This research may help produce new types of drugs that can treat COVID-19. It may also help determine why some people have a severe reaction to an infection, and others have mild to no symptoms.
As exciting and engaging, it is important to remember that research into genetics and COVID-19 is still new. More research is needed before we can fully understand the effect of genes on this disease.
Knowing your risk factors can help you make decisions about exposure to the virus. Risk factors for COVID-19 and severe symptoms include:
- Having a weak immune system due to conditions such as an autoimmune disorder or organ transplant
- Over the age of fifty
- being pregnant
- Having underlying conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidney disease
- Get an audience facing job
- Living in a group environment, such as a nursing home
- Being a biological male
- Being overweight or obese
There is no gene that makes you completely immune to COVID-19. Regardless of the risks you may be exposed to, these measures can help protect you from infection:
- Get vaccinated and boosted, based on your eligibility.
- Wear a high-quality protective mask when you are around others, especially indoors.
- If you are at high risk, avoid crowds.
- Wash your hands often.
- Monitor data on local prevalence where you live, and in areas where the disease is common when you travel. This information can help you make a decision about your participation and attendance in internal and external activities.
A growing body of evidence has linked certain genes and genetic mutations to susceptibility to COVID-19. Although this information is convincing, it is still new. We need more research to fully understand how our genes affect our response to the coronavirus.
As this body of science grows, it may better tell us how to treat or even prevent COVID-19.