Racial/ethnic variation found in nasal gene expression of ke
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In a study published in JAMA, researchers report findings that shed some light on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Blacks, who have experienced rates of infection and death that are much greater, in some areas twice and three times more, than their proportion of the population.

"The virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-Cov-2, uses transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) to facilitate entry and spread in the body," says researchers. "The degree to which a person expresses TMPRSS2 may affect how easy it is for the virus to get in and spread. It was found that nasal expression of TMPRSS2 was significantly higher in Blacks than in Asians, Latinos, those of mixed race/ethnicity, and Whites."

An important point is that gene expression is a dynamic reflection of personal, social, and environmental history, and many complex factors contribute to health disparities.

In this retrospective analysis, researchers drew on a cross-sectional study of 305 patients of diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds, ages 4-60 from whom they collected nasal samples.

"One of the key takeaways of the findings is the critical importance of including diverse participants in clinical trials," says researchers. "In clinical trials of TMPRSS2 inhibitors, it's possible that different effects may be seen depending on racial/ethnic background. More broadly, we also need to address the social determinants of health, economic disparities, and differential access to health care that drive racial/ethnic disparities in health."

In a previous study, also published in JAMA, researchers studied the same cohort to better understand why COVID-19 may be less common among children. "In that study, we found age-dependent expression of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor ACE2 in nasal epithelium, with levels lowest in young children and increasing with age into adulthood."

Source: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2770682
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