Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), shares similarities with the former SARS outbreak, which was caused by SARS-CoV-1. SARS was characterized by severe lung injury due to virus-induced cytopathic effects and dysregulated hyperinflammatory state. COVID-19 has a higher mortality rate in men both inside and outside China. In this opinion paper, we describe how sex-specific immunobiological factors and differences in angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression may explain the increased severity and mortality of COVID-19 in males. We highlight that immunomodulatory treatment must be tailored to the underlying immunobiology at different stages of disease. Moreover, by investigating sex-based immunobiological differences, we may enhance our understanding of COVID-19 pathophysiology and facilitate improved immunomodulatory strategies.
Keywords: ACE2; COVID-19; coronavirus; gender; immunology.