Vukusic K, Thorsell A, Muslimovic A, Jonsson M, Dellgren G, Lindahl A, Sandstedt J, Hammarsten O
Sci Rep 12 (1) 965 [2022-01-19; online 2022-01-19]
Hospitalized patients who die from Covid-19 often have pre-existing heart disease. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is dependent on the ACE2 receptor to be able to infect cells. It is possible that the strong link between cardiovascular comorbidities and a poor outcome following a SARS-CoV-2 infection is sometimes due to viral myocarditis. The aim was to examine the expression of ACE2 in normal hearts and hearts from patients with terminal heart failure. The ACE2 expression was measured by global quantitative proteomics and RT-qPCR in left ventricular (LV) tissue from explanted hearts. Immunohistochemistry was used to examine ACE2 expression in cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts and endothelial cells. In total, tissue from 14 organ donors and 11 patients with terminal heart failure were included. ACE2 expression was 2.6 times higher in 4 hearts from patients with terminal heart failure compared with 6 healthy donor hearts. The results were confirmed by immunohistochemistry where more than half of cardiomyocytes or fibroblasts showed expression of ACE2 in hearts from patients with terminal heart failure. In healthy donor hearts ACE2 was not expressed or found in few fibroblasts. A small subpopulation of endothelial cells expressed ACE2 in both groups. Upregulated ACE2 expression in cardiomyocytes may increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 myocarditis in patients with heart failure.