Identification of High-Risk COVID-19 Patients Through ACE Gene Polymorphism Detection

illustration of dna sequence and coronavirus

The prevalence of a structural variant within the ACE gene (D/D) is suspected to be higher in patients with more severe outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection when compared to those with milder symptoms and the general population. Emerging data from Europe indicates a correlation between the ACE polymorphism and COVID-19 morbidity.

Peter Larsen, PhD, assistant professor in the Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences Department, is leading a study to determine if the ACE (D/D) variant can be used to predict/identify high-risk patients during the early phases of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The project’s goals are to confirm if ACE (D/D) is overrepresented in patients with more severe outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection among their peers, and to investigate the epigenetic mechanisms underlying the effects the ACE polymorphism has on the expression of both ACE and ACE2.

“The results will allow us to confirm the role that the ACE polymorphism plays in the prevalence and clinical outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Larsen. “This finding would directly inform treatment options and preventative strategies for severe COVID-19 outcomes via ACE PCR screening.”

This project is supported by the UMN Campus Public Health Officer's CO:VID (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery) grants program, which support University of Minnesota faculty to catalyze and energize small-scale research projects designed to address and mitigate the COVID-19 virus and its associated risks.