Smokers more likely to express ACE2 protein that SARS-COV-2 uses to enter human cells

Previous data from COVID-19 patients suggests that cigarette smokers are more likely to have health complications. One possible reason, researchers report May 15 in the journal Developmental Cell, is that smoking increases the gene expression of ACE2–the protein that binds SARS-CoV-2–which may promote COVID-19 infection. The study suggests that prolonged smoking could cause an increase of the ACE2 protein in the lungs, possibly resulting in a higher rate of morbidity in patients.