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Evidence-Based Considerations Exploring Relations between SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Air Pollution: Involvement of PM2.5-Mediated Up-Regulation of the Viral Receptor ACE-2.


ABSTRACT: The COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic struck health, social and economic systems worldwide, and represents an open challenge for scientists -coping with the high inter-individual variability of COVID-19, and for policy makers -coping with the responsibility to understand environmental factors affecting its severity across different geographical areas. Air pollution has been warned of as a modifiable factor contributing to differential SARS-CoV-2 spread but the biological mechanisms underlying the phenomenon are still unknown. Air quality and COVID-19 epidemiological data from 110 Italian provinces were studied by correlation analysis, to evaluate the association between particulate matter (PM)2.5 concentrations and incidence, mortality rate and case fatality risk of COVID-19 in the period 20 February-31 March 2020. Bioinformatic analysis of the DNA sequence encoding the SARS-CoV-2 cell receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) was performed to identify consensus motifs for transcription factors mediating cellular response to pollutant insult. Positive correlations between PM2.5 levels and the incidence (r = 0.67, p < 0.0001), the mortality rate (r = 0.65, p < 0.0001) and the case fatality rate (r = 0.7, p < 0.0001) of COVID-19 were found. The bioinformatic analysis of the ACE-2 gene identified nine putative consensus motifs for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR). Our results confirm the supposed link between air pollution and the rate and outcome of SARS-CoV-2 infection and support the hypothesis that pollution-induced over-expression of ACE-2 on human airways may favor SARS-CoV-2 infectivity.

SUBMITTER: Borro M 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7432777 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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