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Certain blood proteins could increase the risks of severe Covid-19

There are many factors to consider when considering complex diseases like Covid-19. It is important to know these different factors to get an idea of ​​a person’s reaction to an illness. At the start of the pandemic, it was determined that the elderly, those suffering from obesity, or even smokers were the most likely to develop the severe form of the disease. This is what led officials to prioritize these people during vaccination campaigns against Covid-19.

But the list does not stop there since there are other biological factors that are not yet well understood. Among these factors are the thousands of proteins found in the blood. Some of these proteins participate in the body’s defense and others disseminate information. They can therefore have an impact on the development and severity of Covid-19.

As we do not all have the same amounts of protein in the body, everyone develops the disease in a different way. For example, some people have to go to the hospital while others have the symptoms of a common cold. It is therefore necessary to identify these proteins, as well as the biological systems that produce the different effects.

Identification by Mendelian randomization

In a study led by Alish Palmos, a postdoctoral research associate at King’s College London, scientists analyzed more than 3,000 blood proteins using a technique called Mendelian randomisation. This consists in examining the variations of genes at the level of a substance which has an effect on a disease, and to see how this impacts on the disease itself. Looking directly at blood protein levels, it is difficult to tell if other outside factors such as lifestyle may have interacted with protein during the test period.

The genes remain the same. They therefore make it possible to more accurately determine the individuals who have high levels or not of the substances sought. It is then possible to make a more reliable estimate of how substances like proteins affect diseases like Covid-19. It was therefore necessary to identify the genes associated with blood proteins by examining the results of genome-wide association studies.

A few proteins have been identified

After analyzing the data obtained, the researchers were able to identify several proteins that can potentially increase or decrease the risk of severe Covid-19.

A first example is the FAAH2 protein. Scientists have observed that high levels of this protein could increase the risk of hospitalization in the event of Covid-19. This protein deactivates substances called endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids have anti-inflammatory effects, so a high level of this protein in the blood would be problematic since it can significantly reduce the body’s ability to control inflammation caused by Covid-19.

This study also made it possible to identify the ABO enzyme among the proteins having an impact on the development of Covid-19 in the body. These enzymes are known to be the elements that determine blood types. On the other hand, the study showed that a high level of this enzyme in the blood seems to increase the risks of developing a severe form of Covid-19 and of needing hospitalization.

Identifying these risk factors for Covid-19 could help scientists develop more effective treatments. This will also help to list proteins that should be prioritized in future research.

SOURCE: sciencealert

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