Obesity is a major risk factor for SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity. The underlying basis of this association is likely complex in nature. The host-cell receptor angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) and the type II transmembrane serine protease (TMPRSS2) are important for viral cell entry. It is unclear whether obesity alters expression of Ace2 and Tmprss2 in the lower respiratory tract. Here, we show that: 1) Ace2 expression is elevated in the lung and trachea of diet-induced obese male mice and reduced in the esophagus of obese female mice relative to lean controls; 2) Tmprss2 expression is increased in the trachea of obese male mice but reduced in the lung and elevated in the trachea of obese female mice relative to lean controls; 3) in chow-fed lean mice, females have higher expression of Ace2 in the lung and esophagus as well as higher Tmprss2 expression in the lung but lower expression in the trachea compared to males; and 4) in diet-induced obese mice, males have higher expression of Ace2 in the trachea and higher expression of Tmprss2 in the lung compared to females, whereas females have higher expression of Tmprss2 in the trachea relative to males. Our data indicate diet- and sex-dependent modulation of Ace2 and Tmprss2 expression in the lower respiratory tract and esophagus. Given the high prevalence of obesity worldwide and a sex-biased mortality rate, we discuss the implications and relevance of our results for COVID-19.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)