A Causal Relation Between Blood Group and COVID-19 Severity is uncovered in a new study

A Causal Relation Between Blood Group and COVID-19 Severity is uncovered in a new study ...

The research, which was financed by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), used a genetic tool to select over 3000 proteins. Six proteins that might support an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and eight that may bolster immunity from severe COVID-19 were identified.

Blood groups are thought to be vital in whether people develop severe forms of the disease, according to one of the ABO proteins that was previously identified as having a causal relationship to the risk of developing severe COVID-19.

The study has identified a number of potential targets for drugs that might be used to treat severe COVID-19. These will need further clinical investigation as part of the widerCOVID-Clinical Neuroscience Study (COVID-CNS) which is investigating the causes of the virus.

Two incremental levels of severity of COVID-19 were investigated, namely hospitalization and respiratory support or death. Using data from a number of genome-wide association studies, researchers discovered six proteins that were causally linked to an increased risk of hospitalization or respiratory support/death due to COVID-19, and eight linked to protection against hospitalization or respiratory support/death.

Different kinds of proteins linked to hospitalization and respiratory support/death have been studied, indicating that different mechanisms may be at work in these two stages of disease.

ABO, a protein that determines a blood group, was linked to an increased likelihood of hospitalization and a requirement for respiratory therapy. This also demonstrates previous evidence about the association of blood group with higher likelihood of death. This suggests blood group A is a candidate for follow-up studies.

Dr Christopher Hubel, a co-last author from King''s IoPPN said: "The enzyme helps determine the blood group of an individual," and that our study has linked the specific blood group with both the risk of hospitalization and the need of respiratory treatment or death. Although previous studies have shown that the proportion of people who are group A is higher in COVID-19 positive individuals, this suggests that blood group A is more likely to undergo follow-up studies.

Proposed results from blood samples can be used to identify possible new targets for repurposing or using drugs. Mendelian randomization, a technique of comparing causal relationships between risk factors and health outcomes, is costly and does not establish causal direction. This is where genetics can play a role. In this context,

Causality between exposure and disease can be established because genetic variants inherited from parent to offspring are randomly assigned at conception, similar to how a randomised controlled trial assigns people to groups. In our study, groups are defined by their genetic propensity to different blood protein levels, allowing an assessment of causal direction from high blood protein levels to COVID-19 severity while avoiding environmental consequences.

Three adhesion molecules have been identified as being linked to a decrease risk of hospitalization and need of respiratory support. This suggests that late stage COVID-19 is also a disease involving the linings of blood vessels.

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