New study reveals cause of muscle weakness

Researchers have identified a possible reason for the long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19. Their study revealed that the ACE2 receptor plays an important role in targeting the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Decreasing ACE2 levels in fruit flies resulted in fatigue and movement problems. The findings highlight the importance of ACE2 in the neuromuscular problems seen in COVID-19 patients, providing a pathway to future therapeutic solutions.

New research paves the way for new strategies to address long-term COVID-19 complications.

Researchers at the University of Malta have identified a potential cause of long-term and frequent debilitating symptoms. COVID-19. A recent study, published in the journal Science BPA molecular basis of disease There are implications for the development of drugs to treat individuals who do not fully recover from a COVID-19 infection.

A third of people recovering from Covid-19 continue to experience life-disrupting symptoms such as persistent fatigue, shortness of breath, ‘brain fog’ (a term used to describe concentration difficulties) and muscle weakness. Despite the increasing global impact on daily life, the origin of long-lasting COVID remains a mystery.

Sars-Cove-2The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 binds to the ACE2 (angiotensin-converting enzyme 2) receptor, which acts as a gate. Virus Affects cells. In a pioneering study, researchers at the University of Malta used fruit flies to reduce levels of the ACE2 receptor. In the absence of virus, this was sufficient to cause fatigue and reduced mobility.

Fruit flies are housed in transparent vials

Fruit flies have long been used to understand human disease and have long been the heroes of Covid research. Credit: University of Malta/Andrew Cauci Attart

“Our research clearly shows that downregulation of ACE2 is central to the neuromuscular complications experienced by a significant percentage of COVID-19 patients,” said Professor Ruben Gacchi, Head of the Motor Neurone Disease Laboratory at the University of Malta.

The compelling findings stem from a large study that began during the heat of the pandemic and temporarily took over the lab’s main focus in response to a global emergency. Professor Gauchi and his team have long used fruit flies to research ALS because of their striking genetic and biological similarities to humans.

When analyzing molecular defects in organisms with reduced ACE2 levels, Maltese scientists discovered a breakdown in communication between nerves and muscles. Many key molecules that nerves need to send messages to muscles are compromised.

Various pathways are thought to converge to reduce ACE2 levels or activity in humans following coronavirus infection. “In addition to being transmitted by viruses, the ACE2 receptor on the surface of the cell can also be targeted by autoantibodies, when the immune system attacks the body as it does in multiple sclerosis,” added Dr. Paul Herrera, who conducted the complex experiments. They are important for study. There are also reports of virus persistence after initial infection.

The University of Malta’s discovery sheds light on the lingering impact of the COVID-19 infection and paves the way for therapeutic approaches to alleviate chronically disabling complications.

Reference: “Functional characterization of an ACE2 ortholog Drosophila Paul Herrera and Ruben J. Kachi, 24 July 2023, provides insights into the neuromuscular complications of COVID-19. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Molecular basis of disease.
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2023.166818

The research was funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology.

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