The specialists revealed why people with diabetes can suffer from severe covid-19. A group of scientists from the United States discovered an altered molecular mechanism.
People with type 2 diabetes almost triple their risk of complications and dying from coronavirus. They are among the priority groups to access vaccines. In the United States, an estimated 62 million people live with type 2 diabetes. That number has tripled in the region since 1980, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
Based on the Diabetes Atlas, the number of people with diabetes will reach 109 million by 2040. One of the public health challenges is that approximately one third of people with type 2 diabetes are undiagnosed, and at the time of detection the disease already presents complications.
A special enzyme
In Argentina, according to the latest national survey of risk factors from the Ministry of Health, 12.7% of the population over 18 years of age has diabetes.
The medical report, which was published in the PNAS journal of the National Academy of Sciences, discusses the enzyme called SETDB2. This enzyme is implicated in non-healing inflammatory wounds in people with diabetes.
Experts investigated a possible link between the enzyme and the uncontrolled inflammation that they witnessed firsthand in COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit.
Studies in mice
Starting from a model of coronavirus infection in mice, they found that the SETDB2 enzyme was decreased in immune cells involved in the inflammatory response – known as macrophages – in mice infected with diabetes. Later, the scientists observed the same in monocyte-macrophages in the blood of people with diabetes and severe COVID-19.
“We think we have an explanation for these patients developing a cytokine storm,” said the doctor. James Melvin. In mouse and human models, as the SETDB2 enzyme decreased, inflammation increased. Furthermore, they revealed that a pathway known as JAK1 / STAT3 regulates the enzyme in macrophages during coronavirus infection. Taken together, the results point to a possible therapeutic pathway.
Based on results of earlier laboratory studies that demonstrated that interferon, an important cytokine for viral immunity, increased the SETDB2 enzyme in response to wound healing. In the new study, researchers at the University of Michigan found that the blood serum of ICU patients with diabetes and severe COVID-19 had reduced levels of interferon-beta compared to patients without diabetes.