Another Explanation for Men's Vulnerability

Men have higher levels than women of an enzyme central to COVID-19 infection, a new study reveals—which could help explain why men are more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, Reuters reports.

Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2—which helps the invasion of healthy cells—“is thought to play a crucial role in the progression of lung disorders related to COVID-19,” Adriaan Voors, the study’s leader, said in a European Society of Cardiology news release.

The research—published today in European Heart Journal—was underway before the pandemic and did not include COVID-19 patients, and thus a direct link cannot be confirmed. However, when the team realized that ACE2 levels were higher in men than women, they wanted to highlight the overlap.

The researchers also found that ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers prescribed to heart failure patients did not fuel higher ACE2 levels in plasma—and therefore should not increase the COVID-19 risk. Recent research had flagged the drugs as a potential concern for cardiovascular patients.

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