The ongoing pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has affected millions ofpeople worldwide and with notable heterogeneity in its clinical presentation. Probability of contracting this highly contagious infection issimilar across age groups but disease severity and fatality among aged patients with or without comorbidities are reportedly higher.Previous studies suggest that age associated transcriptional changes in lung and immune system results in a proinflammatory state andincreased susceptibility to infectious lung diseases. Similarly, SARS-CoV-2 infection could augment ageing-related gene expressionalterations resulting in severe outcomes in elderly patients. To identify genes that can potentially increase covid-19 disease severity inageing people, we compared age associated gene expression changes with disease-associated expression changes in lung/BALF and wholeblood obtained from publicly available data. We observed (i) a significant overlap of gene expression profiles of patients’ BALF and bloodwith lung and blood of the healthy group, respectively; (ii) a more pronounced overlap in blood compared to lung; and (iii) a similar overlapbetween host genes interacting with SARS-CoV-2 and ageing blood transcriptome. Pathway enrichment analysis of overlapping gene setssuggest that infection alters expression of genes already dysregulated in the elderly, which together may lead to poor prognosis. eQTLs inthese genes may also confer poor outcome in young patients worsening with age and comorbidities. Further, the pronounced overlapobserved in blood may explain clinical symptoms including blood clots, strokes, heart attack, multi-organ failure etc. in severe cases. Thismodel based on a limited patient dataset seems robust and holds promise for testing larger tissue specific datasets from patients with variedseverity and across populations.
Volume 100, 2021
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