The Link Between COVID-19 and Amino Acids - Chromatography Explores
Nov 29 2020
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome virus (SARS-CoV-2) has caused a global pandemic to be called by the World Health Organization. There are a wide variety of clinical features ranging from asymptomatic through a cough and fever to severe cases where oxygen therapy and intensive care units are needed to manage patient’s symptoms. The global death toll is increasing daily as we go through 2020 with no cure in sight. The main light in what has been a dark year is the possibility of a vaccine by the end of 2020 or early in 2021.
Hypoxia plays a role in severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 patients. This is the medical term for the shortage of oxygen in the body or a region of the body. This can be an extremely serious condition as the brain, heart and other organs can be damaged very quickly if they are starved of oxygen. Physiologically, to return to homeostasis and normal oxygen levels, the body increases the respiration rate and dilates blood vessels to increase flow. But what happens at the molecular level and could this lead to a better understanding of COVID-19?
Homeostasis – everything stays the same
When the body is thrown out of homeostasis – simply defined as the ability of the body to maintain its status despite changes – it reacts to return to normal. We sweat to cool down when we run, we breathe quicker and our hearts beat faster when we exercise to pump more oxygen to the muscles to provide the energy needed. And when we are ill, metabolic changes occur in the body to try and revert to normal.
In hypoxia, molecular changes include an inhibition in oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria. This impacts the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP which is critical for energy production. Researchers in Mexico have recently explored the link between COVID-19 and metabolic changes related to hypoxia. The results are published in a paper titled COVID-19 Metabolomic Profile: A Link Between Lung Dysfunction Markers and Altered Amino Acid Metabolism.
Get a dose of amino acids?
The study looked at sixty-five COVID-19 patients – 19 with mild disease and 46 with severe disease. Twenty-seven patients who tested negative were included. The serum samples were analysed using gas chromatography mass spectrometry. A discussion on optimising chromatographic separations is discussed in the article, Practical Impact of Dispersion on Fast Chromatographic Separations.
The researchers identified three different α-hydroxyl-acids that were increased in patients with severe COVID-19. The researchers indicate that this might be the result of modified amino acid metabolism associated with lung damage and hypoxic conditions. The researchers conclude that the work shows the potential relevance of amino acid supplementation during SARS-CoV-2 virus infection.
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