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ACE2 receptor polymorphism: Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2, hypertension, multi-organ failure, and COVID-19 disease outcome.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has emerged in Chinese people in December 2019 and has currently spread worldwide causing the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 150,000 deaths. In order for a SARS-CoV like virus circulating in wild life for a very long time to infect the index case-patient, a number of conditions must be met, foremost among which is the encounter with humans and the presence in homo sapiens of a cellular receptor allowing the virus to bind. Recently it was shown that the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, binds to the human angiotensin I converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). This molecule is a peptidase expressed at the surface of lung epithelial cells and other tissues, that regulates the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Humans are not equal with respect to the expression levels of the cellular ACE2. Moreover, ACE2 polymorphisms were recently described in human populations. Here we review the most recent evidence that ACE2 expression and/or polymorphism could influence both the susceptibility of people to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the outcome of the COVID-19 disease. Further exploration of the relationship between the virus, the peptidase function of ACE2 and the levels of angiotensin II in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients should help to better understand the pathophysiology of the disease and the multi-organ failures observed in severe COVID-19 cases, particularly heart failure. Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.