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Monday, October 19, 2020

Hospital Universitario de Canarias Identifies Genes Associated With COVID Deaths

Hospital Universitario de Canarias Mataparda, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The study has focused on analyzing which genetic variants could be associated with the mortality of COVID-19 patients, has been coordinated by the Hospital Universitario de Canarias and six public hospitals in the Canary Islands have participated.

A study in the ICUs of Canarian hospitals has determined that some polymorphisms of the human leukocyte antigen HLA could be associated with the mortality of COVID-19 patients, as it plays a central role in the regulation of the immune response.

The work has been published in the scientific journal Medicina Intensiva and the Intensive Care Units of the HUC, Nuestra Señora de Candelaria University Hospital, Dr. Negrín University Hospital, Maternal-Infant Insular University Hospital Complex, José Molina Orosa Hospital of Lanzarote and General Hospital of La Palma.

The objective has been to determine if there is a relationship between HLA genetic polymorphisms and the susceptibility and mortality of patients with COVID-19, on the basis that genetic polymorphisms of human leukocyte antigens are associated with the risk and prognosis of immune and infectious diseases. 

HLA plays a central role in antigen presentation and, therefore, different polymorphisms could be involved in susceptibility to infectious diseases. Different HLA genetic polymorphisms have been associated with the predisposition and evolution of different infectious diseases such as the hepatitis B virus, the hepatitis C virus or tuberculosis.

3,886 healthy people and 72 COVID-19 patients admitted to the ICU were included in the study and these genetic HLA polymorphisms have been determined. The genetic analysis of the HLA of the patients has been carried out in the Clinical Immunology Laboratory of the HUC. Researchers have found a higher rate of certain alleles (alternative forms that the same gene can have) in COVID-19 patients than in healthy controls.

The results of this preliminary study with a small sample size suggest that certain HLA genetic polymorphisms could be associated with the mortality of COVID-19 patients. The intensivist and coordinator of the study, Leonardo Lorente, believes this multicenter study could help to optimize the use of healthcare resources, selecting the patients who could benefit the most from vaccination and certain treatments.

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