Cardiovascular researchers at the DZHK are currently focusing on the ACE2 receptor. A group of scientists around the Young DZHK member Luka Nicin (AG Dimmeler) from Frankfurt has investigated how the receptor is expressed in samples of different patient tissues. They found that ACE2 was significantly increased in heart muscle cells and vascular cells of the heart of patients with heart disease compared to healthy controls. ACE2 was also significantly elevated in heart cells of patients treated with ACE inhibitors; this was not the case with angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs).
However, it is still unclear whether and in what way this affects the course of COVID-19 infection.
Cell type-specific expression of the putative SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 in human hearts. Luka Nicin et.al. European Heart Journal, ehaa311, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa311
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