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New Metabolic Biomarker for Severe COVID-19

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During the pandemic, it has become evident that people with cardiovascular disease and obesity are at much higher risk of developing very severe, even fatal COVID-19 disease. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have identified some metabolic processes that SARS-CoV-2 uses to attack lung tissue. The results could one day be used to treat COVID-19, and potentially for other viruses like the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and HIV-1.

The corona pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has given rise to a serious and ongoing global health crisis. Most people who fall ill with the disease develop mild to moderate symptoms; however, patients with metabolic disorders such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity are at higher risk of serious illness.

All viruses spread by “piggy-backing” on substances and processes that are vital to the cellular energy supply, the metabolic pathways, in an attacked body or other organisms.

The observation studies that have been done on COVID-19 patients during the pandemic indicate a correlation between disease severity and metabolic disorder with high levels of lipids (fats) in the blood. At the same time, metabolism is a highly individual process and is affected over time by multiple factors, including age, sex, diet, and lifestyle.

Metabolic pathways

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have now examined which parts of the cell’s energy supply are especially important to SARS-CoV-2 and how they affect the severity of the disease.

The covid virus is already known to use the metabolic pathway AKT/mTOR/HIF-1. The new study complements this understanding.

The researchers have discovered that glycolysis and glutaminolysis are the metabolic pathways that the virus “prefers” when attacking the lungs. Both are key processes in cellular energy supply and function.

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Reference: Krishnan S, Nordqvist H, Ambikan AT, et al. Metabolic perturbation associated with COVID-19 disease severity and SARS-CoV-2 replication. Mol. & Cell. Prot. doi: 10.1016/j.mcpro.2021.100159.