ACE2 Expression - Baraldo

TIPOLOGIA: Progetto di ricerca

TITOLO: Impact of Chronic Airway Diseases on ACE2 Expression

COORDINATORE: Prof. Baraldo Simonetta, Prof. Saetta Marina, Pneumologia, Dipartimento di Scienze Cardio-Toraco-Vascolari e Sanità Pubblica

PARTECIPANTI DEL DIPARTIMENTO: Bazzan Erica, RTDA; Bonato Matteo, Dottorando; Tinè Mariaenrica, Dottorando; Turato Graziella, Prof. Associato; Rea Federico, Prof. Ordinario; Marco Schiavon, RTDB; Calabrese Fiorella, Prof. Ordinario

COLLABORATORI ESTERNI: Research Centre on Asthma and COPD, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy; Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson AZ


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, is a major health concern and has devastating effects, especially in the elderly. The rapid accumulation of information in the past weeks has provided important evidence on the heterogenous course of the clinical disease. The majority of patients (80 to 90% of subjects) will present with very mild symptoms, or no symptoms, due to prompt activation of antiviral responses. In a minority of patients (10 to 20%) instead the disease could progress to severe bilateral pneumonia. COVID-19 patients with pre-existing comorbid conditions have worse outcomes including a higher incidence of hospitalization, ICU admission and mortality.


Patients who suffers from chronic respiratory diseases, such as COPD and asthma, are usually more susceptible to the effects of viral infections; yet it is debated whether they are more susceptible to the effects of SARS-CoV-2. In particular, it remains to be investigated how pre-existing chronic inflammatory airway diseases, such as asthma and COPD, and their treatment might modify the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection and development of COVID- 19. We hypothesized that differences in the expression of angiotensin converting enzyme 2-ACE2 (the receptor for SARS-CoV-2 ) may modulate the individual susceptibility to and the clinical course of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and thus identify patients at risk for COVID-19 morbidity.


The expression of ACE2 and of related activator proteins (such as transmembrane protease serine 2 TMPRSS2) will be investigated in the airways of patients with COPD, asthma and appropriate controls groups by immunohistochemistry. Stratification by possible modulating factors such as smoking history, gender and pre-existing ICS therapy will be performed. Furthermore, the modulating effect of smoking and ICS therapy on ACE2 expression will be accounted for in dedicated in vitro analyses.

CONTATTI: Simonetta Baraldo;