[A special on epidemic prevention and control: analysis on expression of 2019-nCoV related ACE2 and TMPRSS2 in eye tissues].Zhonghua Yan Ke Za Zhi. 2020 Jun 11; 56(6):438-446.ZY
This article was published ahead of print on the official website of Chinese Journal of Ophthalmolog on Apirl 22,2020. Objective: Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and Transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) are the key proteins for 2019-nCoV entry into host cells. To evaluate the potential infection risk of 2019-nCoV on ocular surface, we compared ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression among different eye tissues. Methods: Experimental study. Thirty mice were assigned to male, female, aged, diabetic and non-diabetic groups, with 6 mice in each group. Real-time PCR was performed to quantify ACE2 and TMPRSS2 gene expression in conjunctiva, cornea, lacrimal gland, iris, lens, retina, lung, heart, kidney, and liver from male mice. Immunohistochemistry staining was applied to visualize the distribution of the two proteins in different mice tissues, and in human corneal and conjunctival sections. Published transcriptome datasets were extracted to generate the expression comparasion of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 between human conjunctival and corneal tissues, and results were analyzed using Mann-Whitney U test. Female mice, aged mice, STZ-induced diabetic mice, diabetic group control mice were also subjected to ACE2 expression analysis. Results were analyzed using Student's t-test. Results: The expression of ACE2 and TMPRSS2 genes were the highest in conjunctiva among all the six mice eye tissues explored. The expression of these two genes in conjunctiva were lower than that in kidney and lung. ACE2 and TMPRSS2 shared similar expression pattern with the staining concentrated in corneal epithelium, conjunctival epithelium and lacrimal gland serous cells. The expression levels of ACE2 showed gender difference. Female mice had lower ACE2 in conjunctiva and cornea than male mice, with the expression levels being only 43% (t=3.269, P=0.031) and 63% (t=4.080, P=0.015) of that in the male conjunctiva and cornea, respectively. Diabetic mice expressed more ACE2 in conjunctiva (1.21-fold, P>0.05) and lacrimal gland (1.10-fold, P>0.05) compared with the control group. No significant difference on ACE2 expression was found between the aged and young adult mice. The expression level of human conjunctiva ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were significantly higher than that in the cornea (P=0.007), with 5.74-fold and 12.84-fold higher in the conjunctiva than in the corneal epithelium cells, which resembled the situation in mice. Conclusion: The observation of high-level ACE2 and TMPRSS2 expression in conjunctiva among the 6 eye tissues examined suggests that conjunctiva serves as an infection target tissue of 2019-nCoV. (Chin J Ophthalmol, 2020, 56:438-446).