Potential Genes Associated with COVID-19 and Comorbidity

Int J Med Sci. 2022 Jan 24;19(2):402-415. doi: 10.7150/ijms.67815. eCollection 2022.


Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease are common comorbidities and dangerous factors for infection and serious COVID-19. Polymorphisms in genes associated with comorbidities may help observe susceptibility and disease severity variation. However, specific genetic factors and the extent to which they can explain variation in susceptibility of severity are unclear. Therefore, we evaluated candidate genes associated with COVID-19 and hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease. In particular, we performed searches against OMIM, NCBI, and other databases, protein-protein interaction network construction, and GO and KEGG pathway enrichment analyses. Results showed that the associated overlapping genes were TLR4, NLRP3, MBL2, IL6, IL1RN, IL1B, CX3CR1, CCR5, AGT, ACE, and F2. GO and KEGG analyses yielded 302 GO terms (q < 0.05) and 29 signaling pathways (q < 0.05), respectively, mainly including coronavirus disease-COVID-19 and cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction. IL6 and AGT were central in the PPI, with 8 and 5 connections, respectively. In this study, we identified 11 genes associated with both COVID-19 and three comorbidities that may contribute to infection and disease severity. The key genes IL6 and AGT are involved in regulating immune response, cytokine activity, and viral infection. Therefore, RAAS inhibitors, AGT antisense nucleotides, cytokine inhibitors, vitamin D, fenofibrate, and vaccines regulating non-immune and immune factors could be potential strategies to prevent and cure COVID-19. The study provides a basis for further investigation of genes and pathways with predictive value for the risk of infection and prognosis and could help guide drug and vaccine development to improve treatment efficacy and the development of personalised treatments, especially for COVID-19 individuals with common comorbidities.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; bioinformatics; comorbidity; disease severity; susceptibility gene.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / genetics*
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Artery Disease / complications
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Artery Disease / genetics
  • Diabetes Complications / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Complications / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Protein Interaction Maps