Yamamoto N, et al. Gene 2020.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The relentless spread and pathogenicity of the virus have become a global public health emergency. One of the striking features of this pandemic is the pronounced impact on specific regions and ethnic groups. In particular, compared with East Asia, where the virus first emerged, SARS-CoV-2 has caused high rates of morbidity and mortality in Europe. This has not been experienced in past global viral infections, such as influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and is unique to SARS-CoV-2. For this reason, we investigated the involvement of genetic factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection with a focus on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE)-related genes, because ACE2 is a receptor for SARS-CoV-2. We found that the ACE1 II genotype frequency in a population was significantly negatively correlated with the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases. Similarly, the ACE1 II genotype was negatively correlated with the number of deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infection. These data suggest that the ACE1 II genotype may influence the prevalence and clinical outcome of COVID-19 and serve as a predictive marker for COVID-19 risk and severity.