COPD Worsens COVID-19 by Altering Epithelial Cell Genes

(Reuters) – New findings shed light on why chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases increase patients’ risks for severe COVID-19.

The diseases cause genetic changes in the epithelial cells that line the airways, making the cells more vulnerable to attack from the coronavirus, researchers reported in Nature Communications.

Laboratory studies of these cells found changes in their molecular makeup that likely make it easier for the virus to enter the body, make copies of itself, and trigger out-of-control immune responses that fill the lungs with fluid and cause severe organ damage.

The researchers, led by Nicholas Banovich at Translational Genomics Research Institute in Phoenix, were only able to examine cells from lung-disease patients without COVID-19 but said their “study highlights crucial areas for future research.”

SOURCE: Nature Communications, online July 14, 2021.

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