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Air pollution by NO2 and PM2.5 explains COVID-19 infection severity by overexpression of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 in respiratory cells: a review.


ABSTRACT: Many major cities that witnessed heavy air pollution by nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) have experienced a high rate of infection and severity of the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19). This phenomenon could be explained by the overexpression of the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE-2) on epithelial cell surfaces of the respiratory tract. Indeed, ACE-2 is a receptor for coronaviruses including the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 1 and 2 (SARS-CoV), and ACE-2 is overexpressed under chronic exposure to air pollution such as NO2 and PM2.5. In this review, we explain that ACE-2 acts as the sole receptor for the attachment of the SARS-CoV-2 via its spike protein. The fact that respiratory and vascular epithelial cells express ACE-2 has been previously observed during the 2003 epidemic of the SARS-CoV-1 in China, and during the 2012 Middle East respiratory syndrome in Saudi Arabia. High ACE-2 expression in respiratory epithelial cells under air pollution explains the positive correlation between the severity in COVID-19 patients and elevated air pollution, notably high NO2 and PM2.5 levels. Specific areas in India, China, Italy, Russia, Chile and Qatar that experience heavy air pollution also show high rates of COVID-19 infection and severity. Overall, we demonstrate a link between NO2 emissions, PM2.5 levels, ACE-2 expression and COVID-19 infection severity. Therefore, air pollution should be reduced in places where confirmed cases of COVID-19 are unexpectedly high.

SUBMITTER: Paital B 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7499935 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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