The Genes That May Make You More Susceptible to COVID-19
Millions of infections worldwide have been caused by the novel coronaviruses. COVID-19 is not a cookie-cutter disease as time has passed.
People vary in susceptibility to infections and symptoms. There are certain risk factors that play a role. Genetics could also be involved.
“Researchers are looking at the genetics of people’s reactions to the virus. Data shows that some of your genes may affect how you are affected by the disease.”
Read on to learn what research has uncovered.
To look for genes that may influence the impact of COVID-19, geneticists scan the DNA of large study groups. This helps them find and identify connections between specific DNA sequences and disease characteristics.
The genes that affect how people react to the SARS-CoV-2 virus have been discovered.
TheACE2 is a type of receptors found on the surface of certain cells. Cell function is regulated by the other proteins generated by the ACE2 receptors. The SARS-CoV-2 virus can enter your cells through the ACE2 receptors.
The lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and other parts of the body have ACE2 receptors. They help regulate inflammation.
Everyone has ACE2 receptors, but their amount and locations vary.
The study found that people with a specific type of genetic variation in ACE2 are at higher risk of being bitten by the bird. Men are more susceptible to the disease than women.
Cells release ketyles. Cells communicate with cytokines. They regulate inflammation and the immune response to infections.
A cytokine storm is an overreaction of the immune system to infection from an invading host, such as SARS-CoV-2. During a cytokine storm, your cells release too many cytokines. This causes high levels of inflammation and the overactivation of certain immune cells.
The results of a storm can be severe and include tissue damage, organ failure, and sometimes death.
Chromosome 3 and the ABO gene
A large study analyzed genes found along a stretch of chromosome 3. The study found compelling information about specific genes and their potential impact on respiratory failure caused by COVID-19.
The susceptibility to respiratory failure in COVID-19 patients was linked to a gene cluster on the third chromosome. The researchers said that the ABO blood type played a role in the risk of respiratory failure from COVID-19.
Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)
The HLA gene helps regulate your body’s immune response.
A 2021 review found that people with certain HLA alleles were more vulnerable to COVID-19 and severe illness than the general population.
If you were assigned male at birth, you might be at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19. While some data points to
Men tend to express higher amounts of ACE2, making them more susceptible to COVID-19. A
The study shows genes present in men that may make them more prone to infections and genes present in women that may help them fight infections.
The X-chromosome has genes that influence your immune response. The Y-chromosome has about the same number of genes as the X-chromosome.
The X-chromosome is only one copy for men, so it may have an effect on how COVID-19 progresses.
It is important to remember that genetic traits can be clustered among people with the same culture, nationality, or ethnicity. Poor living conditions can skew study results.
Still, three 2021 studies (1,
We need more research before we understand the impact.
COVID-19 is known to present with a wide variety of symptoms. While some symptoms are common, the virus tends to affect people in many different ways. Your genetics may play a role here too.
A 2021 study linked COVID-19 with altered gene expression in specific tissues or cells. This suggests that certain genetic variations may make you more likely to experience certain symptoms.
The study found that some genes were linked to ethnicity. Some symptoms may be more common in certain ethnic groups.
Researchers and geneticists are sharing their findings on genetics and COVID-19 through the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative.
As more studies are done, the pathways that affect susceptibility to this disease may become more apparent.
“This research may help create new drugs that can treat COVID-19. It may help determine why some people have a severe reaction to an illness, while others don’t.”
It is important to remember that the research on genetics and COVID-19 is still new. We need more research to understand the impact of genes on this disease.
Can genetic testing tell me whether I’m more susceptible to COVID-19?
Genetic testing may give clues about susceptibility but it will not tell the whole story.
Health, age, gender, environmental factors, and more all play a role in susceptibility to COVID-19.
Knowing your risk factors can help you make decisions concerning exposure to the virus. Risk factors for COVID-19 and severe symptoms include:
- A weakened immune system is a result of conditions such as an organ transplant.
- Being over 50 years old.
- Being pregnant.
- Having underlying conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and kidneys disease.
- Having a public-facing job.
- Living in a group setting is a thing.
- Being male biologically.
- Being overweight or obese.
“You don’t have a gene that makes you immune to COVID-19. These measures can help protect you from infections.”
- Get vaccinated and boosted, based on your eligibility.
- Wear a high quality protective mask when you’re around others, especially indoors.
- Avoid crowds if you are at high risk.
- You should wash your hands frequently.
- You should keep an eye on the data about local spread and disease prevalence when you travel. This information can help you decide on your participation at activities.
There is growing evidence that certain genes and genes are linked to susceptibility to COVID-19. This information is new. We need more research to understand how our genes affect our response to the coronaviruses.
As this body of science grows, it may be able to tell us how to treat or even prevent COVID-19.