Cognitive disorders linked to severe COVID-19 risk

October 28, 2020

Dementia and other cognitive disorders now appear to be risk factors for developing severe COVID-19, according to research from the University of Georgia. The findings highlight the need for special care for populations with these preexisting conditions during the pandemic.

In a blind study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 1,000 diseases and two specific genes to compare the health profiles of COVID-19 patients with those testing negative, looking for commonalities in the COVID-19 patients.

The study, published online in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, relied on data from UK Biobank, a long-term study of more than 500,000 participants investigating the respective contributions of genetic predisposition and environmental exposure to the development of disease.

Beginning in March, the UK Biobank started to report the COVID-19 status of its participants. The team in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, led by assistant professor Kaixiong Ye and his postdoc, Jingqi Zhou, promptly connected the COVID-19 status to the electronic health data.

"We took a hypothesis-free approach and the most statistically significant ones are the cognitive disorders and Type 2 diabetes," said Ye, the senior author on the study. "Right now, we don't know the mechanisms behind these associations, we only know these are more common in COVID-19 patients."

Analyzing the genetic factors that make some individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19, the team focused on two genes: ACE2 and TPMPRSS2, known to be critical for the virus to enter into human cells.

"In the TMPRSS2 gene we found that a specific genetic variation is more common in the COVID-19 patient," he said, adding that while the discovery was novel at the time, the team knows more data now exists about host genetic factors than even three months ago.

The research team also found that variations in genes related to SARS-CoV-2 infection may be associated with severe COVID-19 that requires hospitalization.

"And we are starting to understand how those genetic variations are making a difference," he said, noting the extraordinary pace of research worldwide during the pandemic as scientists work on SARS CoV 2. Since they began in spring 2020, Ye's group has been able to follow up on its own earlier work and communicate with peers around the world to contribute to the overall body of knowledge about the disease.

"Working on one disease, the whole field is converging together, around the world, at the same time. It really showcases the power of science," Ye said. "What my group is doing is really just data analysis, large-scale data mining, but from vaccine development to studies in patients, scientists are attacking the disease from different aspects, and that's moving us forward very quickly in combating COVID-19."
-end-


University of Georgia

Related Genetics Articles from Brightsurf:

Human genetics: A look in the mirror
Genome Biology and Evolution's latest virtual issue highlights recent research published in the journal within the field of human genetics.

The genetics of blood: A global perspective
To better understand the properties of blood cells, an international team led by UdeM's Guillaume Lettre has been examining variations in the DNA of 746,667 people worldwide.

Turning to genetics to treat little hearts
Researchers makes a breakthrough in understanding the mechanisms of a common congenital heart disease.

New drugs more likely to be approved if backed up by genetics
A new drug candidate is more likely to be approved for use if it targets a gene known to be linked to the disease; a finding that can help pharmaceutical companies to focus their drug development efforts.

Mapping millet genetics
New DNA sequences will aid in the development of improved millet varieties

Genetics to feed the world
A study, published in Nature Genetics, demonstrated the effectiveness of the technology known as genomic selection in a wheat improvement program.

The genetics of cancer
A research team has identified a new circular RNA (ribonucleic acid) that increases tumor activity in soft tissue and connective tissue tumors.

New results on fungal genetics
An international team of researchers has found unusual genetic features in fungi of the order Trichosporonales.

Mouse genetics influences the microbiome more than environment
Genetics has a greater impact on the microbiome than maternal birth environment, at least in mice, according to a study published this week in Applied and Environmental Microbiology.

New insights into genetics of fly longevity
Alexey Moskalev, Ph.D., Head of the Laboratory of Molecular Radiobiology and Gerontology Institute of Biology, and co-authors from the Institute of biology of Komi Science Center of RAS, Engelgard's Institute of molecular biology, involved in the study of the aging mechanisms and longevity of model animals announce the publication of a scientific article titled: 'The Neuronal Overexpression of Gclc in Drosophila melanogaster Induces Life Extension With Longevity-Associated Transcriptomic Changes in the Thorax' in Frontiers in Genetics - a leading open science platform.

Read More: Genetics News and Genetics Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.