Low concentrations of a specific metabolite in diabetics may explain why they are more susceptible to COVID symptoms

Screening of serum metabolites from human subjects for SARS-CoV-2. a,b, Roles human serum metabolites and SARS-CoV-2 infections. Schematic diagram of the study design (a). SARS-CoV-2 replication was impaired by incubation with human serum-derived filters (b). Negative control: Cells incubated using cell medium that is free from SARS-CoV-2. For the upper liquid group and lower liquid group, each dot represents one donor (n = 8 healthy donors). P = 0.0001 for upper liquid versus lower liquid, P Nature Metabolism (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00567-z

Researchers from a number of Chinese institutions have found that patients with diabetes are more likely to develop COVID symptoms when they have low levels of a certain metabolite. Their paper was published in the journal. Nature MetabolismThe group discusses their work in looking for and comparing metabolites among people with diabetes. They also describe how they tested incubated cells against SARS-CoV-2 infections and what they learned.

Doctors noticed that certain people were more likely to experience severe symptoms after being infected with the pandemic. One of those groups was people with diabetes. The researchers believe that this is likely to be the reason.

Researchers conducted a search for metabolites that varied between diabetics and those without diabetes to find out why. They discovered 484, of which 222 were artificially made and are available commercially. The researchers incubated all 222 metabolites, and then exposed them with samples of the SARS-2 virus.

They also noted which metabolites, if any, had a reduced ability to infect other cells by binding with the metabolite. This reduced the number of metabolites to seven, and further testing revealed that only one – 1,5-AG – was left. Researchers found that the body filters the metabolites into the kidneys, which then resorb them into the blood. Diabetes sufferers have less of it because it doesn’t work as well. It ends up in their urine, which makes it less absorbable.

The researchers found that cells containing 1,5-AG had higher viral infections than those containing less 1,5-AG. They also found that adding sera containing 1,5 -AG to cell mix results in a lower viral load. Researchers also tested giving serum to diabetic mice models with 1,5-AG in it. This resulted in lower viral loads after infection.

Researchers believe that patients with diabetes have lower levels than normal of 1,5-AG, which makes them more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms. However, more research is needed to determine if patients with diabetes can be given serum with 1,5-AG to reduce their symptoms.

Laboratory-generated mini-kidneys reveal the link between diabetes, COVID-19 and other diseases

More information:
Liangqin Tong et. al. A glucose-like metabolic metabolite lacking in diabetes inhibits cellular Entry of SARS/CoV-2. Nature Metabolism (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s42255-022-00567-z

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Low levels of a specific metabolite may explain why diabetics are more likely to develop COVID symptoms (2022, 20 May)
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