The COVID-19 pandemic is associated with neurological symptoms and complications including stroke. There is hypercoagulability associated with COVID-19 that is likely a "sepsis-induced coagulopathy" and may predispose to stroke. The SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) present on brain endothelial and smooth muscle cells. ACE2 is a key part of the renin angiotensin system (RAS) and a counterbalance to angiotensin-converting enzyme 1 (ACE1) and angiotensin II. Angiotensin II is proinflammatory, is vasoconstrictive, and promotes organ damage. Depletion of ACE2 by SARS-CoV-2 may tip the balance in favor of the "harmful" ACE1/angiotensin II axis and promote tissue injury including stroke. There is a rationale to continue to treat with tissue plasminogen activator for COVID-19-related stroke and low molecular weight heparinoids may reduce thrombosis and mortality in sepsis-induced coagulopathy.
Keywords: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2); COVID-19; Coagulopathy; SARS-CoV-2; Sepsis; Stroke.