A Hair Loss Biomarker Is Also Related to COVID-19 Severity

Health

A new study published at EADV found a link in COVID-19 severity in male patients and the sex hormone androgen.

Per the findings presented at the 2021 Spring Symposium of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), researchers established a unique biomarker to detect male COVID-19 patients most at risk for ICU admission. According to the findings, people with phenotypes sensitive to androgen, a male sex hormone, are more likely to develop severe COVID-19 illness.

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by mutations in the AR gene, which changes the body’s sensitivity to androgens. Transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2), an enzyme associated in COVID-19 infection, is controlled by an androgen response element. It means that changes inside the AR receptor may also have an impact on it. The goal of this study was to find a link between the length of the polyglutamine repeat region (CAG) and a tendency to greater COVID disease severity. This is due to the CAG gene, which is found in the AR gene and is linked to both androgen responsiveness and androgenetic alopecia.

The AR CAG repeat length of 65 hospitalized male COVID-19 positive patients was evaluated in a prospective research. Researchers discovered that male COVID patients with a CAG repeat count fewer than 22 nucleotides were considerably less likely to be admitted to the ICU than patients with a CAG count larger than or equal to 22 nucleotides.

“Our data show that longer AR CAG scores are associated with more severe COVID‐19 disease and indicate that AR CAG repeat length could be used as a biomarker to help identify male COVID‐19 patients most at risk for ICU admissions,” said Andy Goren, MD, the chief medical officer at Applied Biology, Inc., Irvine, California. “The identification of a biomarker connected with the androgen receptor is another piece of evidence highlighting the important role of androgens in COVID-19 disease severity.”

Another study presented at the EADV Spring Symposium looked at a possible new COVID-19 treatment that employed a novel androgen receptor antagonist to modulate TMPRSS2 expression and potentially treat COVID-19 patients. This study’s findings were presented for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

“This research demonstrates the scientific value of dermatology by offering key insights into the role of genetics and its link to COVID disease. It is an excellent example of some of the pioneering abstracts being showcased at The EADV Spring Symposium this year,” said Lidia Rudnicka, PhD, EADV board member and professor at the Medical University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland.

Reference:

1. A. Goren. Novel biomarker linked to hair loss can determine COVID severity in men. Presented at the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology’s 2021 Spring Symposium May 6-7 2021. Accessed May 11, 2021. 

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