An enzyme that helps COVID-19 (coronavirus) infect the body also plays a role in inflammation and patient outcomes in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), according to a new study led by Cedars-Sinai. The findings raise the possibility that anti-inflammatory drug therapies for IBD may aid recovery from coronavirus.
The multisite study, led by Cedars-Sinai and published today in the journal Gastroenterology, focused on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which normally plays a crucial health role by activating a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure. But in COVID-19 infections, the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to ACE2 and uses it to invade and infect cells, “hijacking” them to spread the virus.
To learn more about how ACE2 affects the body, investigators examined its role in Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis — two types of IBD that can cause inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) in the digestive tract along with diarrhea, cramping and loss of appetite.