Nurses in a corona intensive care unit in Offenbach (archive image)
Photo: Sebastian Gollnow / dpa
The genes are apparently partly responsible for who dies of Covid-19 and who does not.
According to a study, the GNB3 TT gene variant reduces the risk of death from a corona infection by around 35 percent.
For the study, a research team from the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) examined the course of the disease in 1570 patients who tested positive for the coronavirus between March 11, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
The result was published in the journal »Frontiers in Genetics«.
Gene variant promotes good immune response
About ten percent of the population in Europe carries the »GNB3 TT« gene variant.
The GNB3 gene encodes an important functional subunit of the so-called G proteins, the study author Birte Möhlendick from the Institute for Pharmacogenetics explained to the German Press Agency.
The G proteins are involved in many processes in the body.
"Among other things, our working group has already shown in its own preparatory work that the gene variant described in the study results in the activation of immune cells," says Möhlendick.
An early and adequate immune response plays a major role in the course of Covid-19.
On the one hand, the study looked at whether the patients with courses of different severity had different immune responses and, on the other hand,
"As is already known, we were also able to observe that younger age and the absence of cardiovascular diseases or diabetes reduces the risk of dying after infection with Sars-CoV-2 by half," says the study leader, according to one Communication .
205 of the study participants (13 percent) had a mild course of the disease, 760 (48 percent) came to the hospital and 292 (19 percent) were treated by intensive care physicians.
313 people, 20 percent of those examined in the study, died.
"We were also able to show," says Möhlendick, "that the cells of people with the GNB3 TT genotype reacted most strongly to the coronavirus, which may explain why the risk of death is so greatly reduced in these gene carriers."
Omicron not included in study
Since the study only lasts until June 2021, the current omicron variant, which was first detected in autumn 2021, has not yet been recorded.
Further investigations are currently being carried out at the University of Duisburg-Essen into which gene variants could influence the course of Covid-19.
Previous studies had already shown that genes can play a role in corona.
Corona infected people with a different gene variant are three times more likely to need artificial ventilation, as a team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig found out in 2020.
A person's blood group also has an impact on how likely it is that they will contract Corona.