Endothelial dysfunction in COVID-19: Current findings and therapeutic implications

Authors: Matthias P Nägele 1Bernhard Haubner 1Felix C Tanner 1Frank Ruschitzka 1Andreas J Flammer 2

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) increases the risk of several non-pulmonary complications such as acute myocardial injury, renal failure or thromboembolic events. A possible unifying explanation for these phenomena may be the presence of profound endothelial dysfunction and injury. This review provides an overview on the association of endothelial dysfunction with COVID-19 and its therapeutic implications. Endothelial dysfunction is a common feature of the key comorbidities that increase risk for severe COVID-19 such as hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease or heart failure. Preliminary studies indicate that vascular endothelial cells can be infected by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and evidence of widespread endothelial injury and inflammation is found in advanced cases of COVID-19. Prior evidence has established the crucial role of endothelial cells in maintaining and regulating vascular homeostasis and blood coagulation. Aggravation of endothelial dysfunction in COVID-19 may therefore impair organ perfusion and cause a procoagulatory state resulting in both macro- and microvascular thrombotic events. Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) and statins are known to improve endothelial dysfunction. Data from smaller observational studies and other viral infections suggests a possible beneficial effect in COVID-19. Other treatments that are currently under investigation for COVID-19 may also act by improving endothelial dysfunction in patients. Focusing therapies on preventing and improving endothelial dysfunction could improve outcomes in COVID-19. Several clinical trials are currently underway to explore this concept.

For More Information: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33161318/