Single-cell RNA Analysis on ACE2 Expression Provides Insight into SARS-CoV-2 Blood Entry and Heart Injury

MedRxiv : the Preprint Server for Health Sciences
J. GuoDan Meng


COVID-19 is a global pandemic with high infectivity and pathogenicity, accounting for tens of thousands of deaths worldwide. Recent studies have found that the pathogen of COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, shares the same cell receptor Angiotensin converting enzyme II (ACE2) with SARS-CoV. The pathological investigation of COVID-19 death showed that the lung had the characteristics of pulmonary fibrosis. However, how SARS-CoV-2 spreads from the lungs to other organs has not yet been determined. Here, we performed an unbiased evaluation of cell-type specific expression of ACE2 in healthy and fibrotic lungs, as well as in normal and failed adult human hearts, using published single-cell RNA-seq data. We found that ACE2 expression in fibrotic lungs mainly locates in arterial vascular cells, which might provide the route for bloodstream spreading of SARS-CoV-2. The failed human hearts have a higher percentage of ACE2-expressing cardiomyocytes, and SARS-CoV-2 might attack cardiomyocytes through the bloodstream in patients with heart failure. Moreover, ACE2 was highly expressed in cells infected by RSV or MERS-CoV and in mice treated by LPS. Our findings indicate that patients with pulmonary fibrosis, heart failure, and virus infection have a hi...Continue Reading

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