The study showed that children have fewer receptors through which the virus enters the body.
The COVID-19 pandemic raised many questions that relate to how often and how hard children can tolerate this infection. In a new study, which is published in Jama, scientists tried to explain why children can get sick less often and easier than adults.
Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 penetrates the body, connecting with the ACE2 receptor (angiotensin-converting enzyme) on cell membranes. In a new study, scientists have shown that in children the gene that encodes ACE2 is less expressed than in adults. Gene expression indicates how often information is read from it for the synthesis of a particular protein. Accordingly, ACE2 protein in children is weaker.
“ACE2 expression may be associated with a predisposition to COVID-19. Angiotensin-converting enzyme is a receptor that many have heard about, because it is associated with the regulation of blood pressure. It is known to be expressed in the airways, kidneys, heart, and intestines, ”explained Professor Supinda Bunyavanich from the Ikana School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
The nasal passages are considered one of the most likely sites through which the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters the body. In a new study, Bunyavanich and her colleagues examined the nasal epithelium of patients from Mount Sinai Medical Center, aged 4 to 60 years. They found that the severity (expression) of the ACE2 gene in children is much less than in adults: it has a tendency to increase with age.
“This may explain why the pandemic pities children in some way,” Bunyavanich said.