A new research paper by our latest Wylie Scholar, Dr. Kathryn Howe, and her colleagues, suggests that COVID-19 may affect the function of the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels.

Dr. Howe and her research partners at the University of Toronto, the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute, University Health Network, and Peter Munk Cardiac Centre wrote a paper that was recently published in the AHA Journal of Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Dr. Howe explains:

Cells lining the blood vessels are involved in COVID-19. These cells, called endothelial cells, have the receptor for the virus on their surface. Research is suggesting that COVID-19 may affect the function of endothelial cells, causing some of the clinical complications we are seeing with people who have severe infections – such as blood clots in the lungs and strokes in young people. People with vascular disease are vulnerable because their endothelial cells already have altered endothelial cell function. Understanding how to identify the patients with severe infection may be possible with endothelial biomarkers and treatments could be designed that stabilize the endothelial cells. Our review article The Endothelium As a Linchpin of Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pathogenesis?  covers the biology of the virus, the role of the endothelium, and how we might design treatments for COVID-19.