Increased Colonic Expression of ACE2 Associates with Poor Prognosis in Crohn’s Disease

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Takahiko ToyonagaShehzad Z Sheikh

Abstract

Background and Aims: The host receptor for SARS-CoV-2, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), is highly expressed in small intestine. Our aim was to study colonic ACE2 expression in Crohn's disease (CD) and non-inflammatory bowel disease (non-IBD) controls. We hypothesized that the colonic expression levels of ACE2 impacts CD course. Methods: We examined the expression of colon ACE2 using RNA-seq and quantitative (q) RT-PCR from 69 adult CD and 14 NIBD control patients. In a subset of this cohort we validated ACE2 protein expression and localization in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded matched colon and ileal tissues using immunohistochemistry. The impact of increased ACE2 expression in CD for the risk of surgery was evaluated by a multivariate regression analysis and a Kaplan-Meier estimator. To provide critical support for the generality of our findings, we analyzed previously published RNA-seq data from two large independent cohorts of CD patients. Results: Colonic ACE2 expression was significantly higher in a subset of adult CD patients (ACE2-high CD). IHC in a sampling of ACE2-high CD patients confirmed high ACE2 protein expression in the colon and ileum compared to ACE2-low CD and NIBD patients. Notably, we found that AC...Continue Reading

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