The interacting physiology of COVID-19 and the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system: Key agents for treatment.
Pharmacology research & perspectives. 2022;(1):e00917
SARS-CoV-2 interacting with its receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), turns the host response to viral infection into a dysregulated uncontrolled inflammatory response. This is because ACE2 limits the production of the peptide angiotensin II (Ang II) and SARS-CoV-2, through the destruction of ACE2, allows the uncontrolled production of Ang II. Recovery from trauma requires activation of both a tissue response to injury and activation of a whole-body response to maintain tissue perfusion. Tissue and circulating renin-angiotensin systems (RASs) play an essential role in the host response to infection and injury because of the actions of Ang II, mediated via its AT1 receptor. Both tissue and circulating arms of the renin angiotensin aldosterone system's (RAAS) response to injury need to be regulated. The effects of Ang II and the steroid hormone, aldosterone, on fluid and electrolyte homeostasis and on the circulation are controlled by elaborate feedback networks that respond to alterations in the composition and volume of fluids within the circulatory system. The role of Ang II in the tissue response to injury is however, controlled mainly by its metabolism and conversion to Ang-(1-7) by the enzyme ACE2. Ang-(1-7) has effects that are contrary to Ang II-AT1 R mediated effects. Thus, destruction of ACE2 by SARS-CoV-2 results in loss of control of the pro-inflammatory actions of Ang II and tissue destruction. Therefore, it is the response of the host to SARS-CoV-2 that is responsible for the pathogenesis of COVID-19.
Evaluating the effects of sodium glucose co-transporter -2 inhibitors from a renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system perspective in patients infected with COVID-19: contextualizing findings from the dapagliflozin in respiratory failure in patients with COVID-19 study.
Molecular biology reports. 2022;(3):2321-2324
Numerous studies demonstrate parallels between CVD, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and COVID-19 pathology, which accentuate pre-existing complications in patients infected with COVID-19 and potentially exacerbate the infection course. Antidiabetic drugs such as sodium-glucose transporter-2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors have garnered substantial attention recently due to their efficacy in reducing the severity of cardiorenal disease. The effect of SGLT-2 inhibitors in patients with COVID-19 remains unclear particularly since SGLT-2 inhibitors contribute to altering the RAAS cascade activity, which includes ACE-2, the major cell entry receptor for SARS-CoV2. A study, DARE-19, was carried out to unveil the effects of SGLT-2 inhibitor treatment on comorbid disease complications and concomitant COVID-19 outcomes and demonstrated no statistical significance. However, the need for further studies is essential to provide conclusive clinical findings.
Evaluating sources of bias in observational studies of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor/angiotensin II receptor blocker use during COVID-19: beyond confounding.
Journal of hypertension. 2021;(4):795-805
Concerns over ACE inhibitor or ARB use to treat hypertension during COVID-19 remain unresolved. Although studies using more robust methodologies provided some clarity, sources of bias persist and it remains critical to quickly address this question. In this review, we discuss pernicious sources of bias using a causal model framework, including time-varying confounder, collider, information, and time-dependent bias, in the context of recently published studies. We discuss causal inference methodologies that can address these issues, including causal diagrams, time-to-event analyses, sensitivity analyses, and marginal structural modeling. We discuss effect modification and we propose a role for causal mediation analysis to estimate indirect effects via mediating factors, especially components of the renin--angiotensin system. Thorough knowledge of these sources of bias and the appropriate methodologies to address them is crucial when evaluating observational studies to inform patient management decisions regarding whether ACE inhibitors or ARBs are associated with greater risk from COVID-19.
The Renin-Angiotensin System: A Key Role in SARS-CoV-2-Induced COVID-19.
Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2021;(22)
The novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), was first identified in Eastern Asia (Wuhan, China) in December 2019. The virus then spread to Europe and across all continents where it has led to higher mortality and morbidity, and was declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020. Recently, different vaccines have been produced and seem to be more or less effective in protecting from COVID-19. The renin-angiotensin system (RAS), an essential enzymatic cascade involved in maintaining blood pressure and electrolyte balance, is involved in the pathogenicity of COVID-19, since the angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) acts as the cellular receptor for SARS-CoV-2 in many human tissues and organs. In fact, the viral entrance promotes a downregulation of ACE2 followed by RAS balance dysregulation and an overactivation of the angiotensin II (Ang II)-angiotensin II type I receptor (AT1R) axis, which is characterized by a strong vasoconstriction and the induction of the profibrotic, proapoptotic and proinflammatory signalizations in the lungs and other organs. This mechanism features a massive cytokine storm, hypercoagulation, an acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and subsequent multiple organ damage. While all individuals are vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2, the disease outcome and severity differ among people and countries and depend on a dual interaction between the virus and the affected host. Many studies have already pointed out the importance of host genetic polymorphisms (especially in the RAS) as well as other related factors such age, gender, lifestyle and habits and underlying pathologies or comorbidities (diabetes and cardiovascular diseases) that could render individuals at higher risk of infection and pathogenicity. In this review, we explore the correlation between all these risk factors as well as how and why they could account for severe post-COVID-19 complications.
Upregulation of the Renin-Angiotensin System Pathways and SARS-CoV-2 Infection: The Rationale for the Administration of Zinc-Chelating Agents in COVID-19 Patients.
The article describes the rationale for the administration of zinc-chelating agents in COVID-19 patients. In a previous work I have highlighted that the binding of the SARS-CoV spike proteins to the zinc-metalloprotease ACE2 has been shown to induce ACE2 shedding by activating the zinc-metalloprotease ADAM17, which ultimately leads to systemic upregulation of ACE2 activity. Moreover, based on experimental models, it was also shown the detrimental effect of the excessive systemic activity of ACE2 through its downstream pathways, which leads to "clinical" manifestations resembling COVID-19. In this regard, strong upregulation of circulating ACE2 activity was recently reported in COVID-19 patients, thus supporting the previous hypothesis that COVID-19 may derive from upregulation of ACE2 activity. Based on this, a reasonable hypothesis of using inhibitors that curb the upregulation of both ACE2 and ADAM17 zinc-metalloprotease activities and consequent positive feedback-loops (initially triggered by SARS-CoV-2 and subsequently sustained independently on viral trigger) is proposed as therapy for COVID-19. In particular, zinc-chelating agents such as citrate and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) alone or in combination are expected to act in protecting from COVID-19 at different levels thanks to their both anticoagulant properties and inhibitory activity on zinc-metalloproteases. Several arguments are presented in support of this hypothesis and based on the current knowledge of both beneficial/harmful effects and cost/effectiveness, the use of chelating agents in the prevention and therapy of COVID-19 is proposed. In this regard, clinical trials (currently absent) employing citrate/EDTA in COVID-19 are urgently needed in order to shed more light on the efficacy of zinc chelators against SARS-CoV-2 infection in vivo.
Differences in RAAS/vitamin D linked to genetics and socioeconomic factors could explain the higher mortality rate in African Americans with COVID-19.
Therapeutic advances in cardiovascular disease. 2020;:1753944720977715
COVID-19 is said to be a pandemic that does not distinguish between skin color or ethnic origin. However, data in many parts of the world, especially in the United States, begin to show that there is a sector of society suffering a more significant impact from this pandemic. The Black population is more vulnerable than the White population to infection and death by COVID-19, with hypertension and diabetes mellitus as probable predisposing factors. Over time, multiple disparities have been observed between the health of Black and White populations, associated mainly with socioeconomic inequalities. However, some mechanisms and pathophysiological susceptibilities begin to be elucidated that are related directly to the higher prevalence of multiple diseases in the Black population, including infection and death by COVID-19. Plasma vitamin D levels and evolutionary adaptations of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS) in Black people differ considerably from those of other races. The role of these factors in the development and progression of hypertension and multiple lung diseases, among them SARS-CoV-2 infection, is well established. In this sense, the present review attempts to elucidate the link between vitamin D and RAAS ethnic disparities and susceptibility to infection and death by COVID-19 in Black people, and suggests possible mechanisms for this susceptibility.
Use of distinct anti-hypertensive drugs and risk for COVID-19 among hypertensive people: A population-based cohort study in Southern Catalonia, Spain.
Journal of clinical hypertension (Greenwich, Conn.). 2020;(8):1379-1388
The use of some anti-hypertensive drugs in the current COVID-19 pandemic has become controversial. This study investigated possible relationships between anti-hypertensive medications use and COVID-19 infection risk in the ambulatory hypertensive population. This is a population-based retrospective cohort study involving 34 936 hypertensive adults >50 years in Tarragona (Southern Catalonia, Spain) who were retrospectively followed through pandemic period (from 01/03/2020 to 30/04/2020). Two data sets including demographic/clinical characteristics (comorbidities and cardiovascular medications use) and laboratory PCR codes for COVID-19 were linked to construct an anonymized research database. Cox regression was used to calculate multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) and estimate the risk of suffering COVID-19 infection. Across study period, 205 PCR-confirmed COVID-19 cases were observed, which means an overall incidence of 586.8 cases per 100 000 persons-period. In multivariable analyses, only age (HR: 1.03; 95% CI: 1.02-1.05; P < .001) and nursing home residence (HR: 19.60; 95% CI: 13.80-27.84; P < .001) appeared significantly associated with increased risk of COVID-19. Considering anti-hypertensive drugs, receiving diuretics (HR: 1.22; 95% CI: 0.90-1.67; P = .205), calcium channel blockers (HR: 1.29; 95%CI: 0.91-1.82; P = .148), beta-blockers (HR: 0.97; 95% CI: 0.68-1.37; P = .844), and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (HR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.61-1.13; P = .238) did not significantly alter the risk of PCR-confirmed COVID-19, whereas receiving angiotensin II receptor blockers was associated with an almost statistically significant reduction risk (HR: 0.67; 95% CI: 0.44-1.01; P = .054). In conclusion, our data support that receiving renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system inhibitors does not predispose for suffering COVID-19 infection in ambulatory hypertensive people. Conversely, receiving angiotensin II receptor blockers could be related with a reduced risk.