Hospital patients with Covid-19 show a certain gene variant much more often than people with mild courses. According to a new study, those affected are completely or partially missing certain immune cell receptors.
Much more common in intensive care units
The se include the NKG2C receptor, which communicates with an infected cell via one of its specific surface structures, the HLA-E. This interaction leads to the destruction of the virus-infected cells.
In around four percent of the population, the activating receptor NKG2C is missing due to a gene variation, in around 30 percent the receptor is only partially present. A research group from the MedUni Center for Virology, headed by Puchhammer-Stöckl, in cooperation with doctors from the Favoriten Clinic in Vienna, has shown that especially people with a partial or complete absence of the NKG2C receptor develop severe courses.
The lack of the receptor was particularly common in patients who had to be treated with Covid-19 in intensive care units, regardless of age or gender. Genetic variations in the HLA-E of the infected cell were also associated with the severity of the disease, albeit to a lesser extent, ”explained Puchhammer-Stöckl.
The current study therefore shows the great importance of the NK cell response in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 infection.