Novel biomarker discovered to identify male COVID-19 patients at greatest risk for ICU admission
Researchers have discovered a novel biomarker to identify male COVID-19 patients who are at greatest risk of ICU admission. The results presented today at the EADV Spring Symposium 2021 suggest that men with genetic traits (phenotypes) sensitive to the male sex hormone androgen are more likely to have severe COVID-19 disease.
Researchers were eager to examine the association between the androgen receptor (AR) gene and COVID-19 after observing the disproportionate number of men hospitalized for COVID-19 and suffering from androgenetic alopecia (a common form of Hair loss) compared to the expected number suffered in a similar age-matched population (79% versus 31-53%).
Androgenetic alopecia is known to be controlled by variations in the AR gene that affect the body’s sensitivity to androgens (hormones like testosterone). In addition, an enzyme involved in COVID-19 infection (TMPRSS2) is regulated by an androgen response element – meaning that it too can be affected by variations in the AR gene. Since the polyglutamine repeat (CAG repeat) region in the AR gene is associated with both androgen sensitivity and androgenetic alopecia; This research attempted to identify the association between the length of the CAG repeat region and predisposition to increased severity of COVID disease.
In a prospective study of 65 COVID-19 positive men in the hospital, the AR CAG repeat length of each man was measured. The researchers found that male Covid patients with a CAG repeat below 22 nucleotides (CAG <22) were admitted to the intensive care unit significantly less often than patients with a CAG number above or equal to 22 nucleotides (CAG ≥ 22; p = 0 , 05).
Our data show that longer AR CAG scores are associated with more severe COVID-19 disease and that AR CAG repeat length could be used as a biomarker to identify male COVID-19 patients at risk of ingestion the intensive care unit is largest. ”
Dr. Andy Goren, Chief Medical Officer of Applied Biology, Inc., Irvine, California, USA
He continues, “The identification of a biomarker associated with the androgen receptor is further evidence highlighting the important role of androgens in the severity of COVID-19 disease.”
Further research by Dr. Andy Goren and his team, reported at the EADV Spring Symposium, are investigating a promising new therapy for COVID-19 using a novel androgen receptor antagonist to regulate TMPRSS2 expression and possibly treat COVID-19 patients. The results of this study have been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
This research demonstrates the scientific value of dermatology by providing important insights into the role of genetics and its relationship to COVID disease. It’s a great example of some of the landmark abstracts featured at the EADV Spring Symposium this year. “
Prof. Lidia Rudnicka, EADV board member and professor at the Medical University of Warsaw
EADV Spring Symposium 2021