COVID-19 patients may become predisposed to pulmonary arterial hypertension

Med Hypotheses. 2021 Feb;147:110483. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2021.110483. Epub 2021 Jan 6.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is causing the current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that have killed over one million people worldwide so far. To date, over forty million people have officially been identified to be infected with this virus with less than 3% death rate. Since many more people are expected to have been infected with this virus without the official diagnosis, the number of people who have recovered from the SARS-CoV-2 infection should be substantial. Given the large number of people recovered from either the mild SARS-CoV-2 infection or more severe COVID-19 conditions, it is critical to understand the long-term consequences of the infection by this virus. Our histological evaluations revealed that patients died of COVID-19 exhibited thickened pulmonary vascular walls, one important hallmark of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). By contrast, such pulmonary vascular remodeling lesions were not found in patients died of SARS-CoV-1 during the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak or due to the infection by H1N1 influenza. The advancement in the treatment for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection has been remarkable that HIV-infected individuals now live for a long time, in turn revealing that these individuals become susceptible to developing PAH, a fatal condition. We herein hypothesize that SARS-CoV-2 is another virus that is capable to triggering the increased susceptibility of infected individuals to developing PAH in the future. Given the large number of people being infected with SARS-CoV-2 during this pandemic and that most people recover from severe, mild or asymptomatic conditions, it is imperative to generate scientific information on how the health of recovered individuals may be affected long-term. PAH is one lethal consequence that should be considered and needs to be monitored. This may also foster the research on developing therapeutic agents to prevent PAH, which has not so far been successful.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / physiopathology
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype
  • Influenza, Human / complications
  • Lung / virology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension / complications*
  • Ukraine / epidemiology