Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Gene Polymorphism and Severe Lung Injury in Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019.Am J Pathol. 2020 10; 190(10):2013-2017.AJ
Coronavirus disease 2019 has markedly varied clinical presentations, with most patients being asymptomatic or having mild symptoms. However, severe acute respiratory disease, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), is common and associated with mortality in patients who require hospitalization. The etiology of susceptibility to severe lung injury remains unclear. Angiotensin II, converted by angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) from angiotensin I and metabolized by ACE 2 (ACE2), plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of lung injury. ACE2 is identified as an essential receptor for SARS-CoV-2 to enter the cell. The binding of ACE2 and SARS-CoV-2 leads to the exhaustion and down-regulation of ACE2. The interaction and imbalance between ACE and ACE2 result in an unopposed angiotensin II. Considering that the ACE insertion (I)/deletion (D) gene polymorphism contributes to the ACE level variability in general population, in which mean ACE level in DD carriers is approximately twice that in II carriers, we propose a hypothesis of genetic predisposition to severe lung injury in patients with coronavirus disease 2019. It is plausible that the ACE inhibitors and ACE receptor blockers may have the potential to prevent and to treat the acute lung injury after SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially for those with the ACE genotype associated with high ACE level.