Genetic factors involved in the development of COVID-19

This study indicates that variants in two regions of the human genome are associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory failure in patients with SARS-COV-2 infection


Description of the Study:

  • Title: Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure.
  • Principal Investigators: D. Ellinghaus, A. Franke, and The Severe COVID-19 GWAS Group (Kiel University).
  • Centers of Implementation: Seven hospitals in Italy (Fondazione IRCCS Cá Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico in Milan; Humanitas Clinical and Research Center, IRCCS, in Milan; and UNIMIB (Università degli Studi di Milano–Bicocca) School of Medicine, San Gerardo Hospital, in Monza) and Spain (Hospital Clínic, IDIBAPS and Hospital Universitario Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal in Madrid, and Donostia University Hospital in San Sebastian); and Kiel University in Germany.
  • Study Population: 1980 patients were recruited with COVID-19 and severe disease (defined as respiratory failure) at seven hospitals in the Italian and Spanish epicenters of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in Europe. After quality control and the exclusion of population outliers, 835 patients and 1255 control participants from Italy and 775 patients and 950 control participants from Spain were included in the final analysis.
  • Study Type: Genomewide association international study.
  • Design: Blood samples were collected from 1610 patients with COVID-19 who required respiratory support (oxygen or mechanical ventilation). DNA was extracted from the blood samples to study nearly nine million genetic variants in the laboratory in Kiel (Germany).

Objectives of the Study:

Principal Objective: To delineate host genetic factors contributing to severe COVID-19 with respiratory failure.

More about this Study:

Background: There is considerable variation in disease behavior among patients infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Genomewide association analysis may allow for the identification of potential genetic factors involved in the development of COVID-19.

Added value: This collaborative European study was the first to identify genetic factors that increase the risk of developing respiratory failure in patients with COVID-19. It demonstrates the possibility of identifying individuals who are more vulnerable to the development of severe pulmonary insufficiency disease due to the coronavirus according to their genetic characteristics, making it possible to identify risk groups needing special protection and to design personalized treatments.

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