Research press release


Nature Genetics

Genetics: Genetic risk factor for COVID-19-related loss of smell or taste identified

新型コロナウイルス感染症(COVID-19)の症状として嗅覚消失や味覚消失が知られている。それらの症状の表れやすさに影響する遺伝的リスク因子を明らかにした論文が、Nature Genetics に掲載される。2つの遺伝子(UGT2A1UGT2A2)の近傍の座位が症状の出やすさに関連しており、その座位の塩基配列の違いによって、重症急性呼吸器症候群コロナウイルス2(SARS-CoV-2)感染後に嗅覚消失、味覚消失のいずれかを発症する確率が11%増加した。


今回、Adam Autonたちは、米国や英国に居住する18歳以上の研究参加者6万9841人(女性63%、男性37%)から集めたオンライン調査データを用いて、ゲノムワイド関連解析を行った。その結果、2つの遺伝子(UGT2A1UGT2A2)の近くに位置する一連のバリアント(塩基配列の違い)によって、SARS-CoV-2に感染した人が嗅覚消失や味覚消失を経験する確率が11%増加することが判明した。UGT2A1UGT2A2は、鼻の内壁を覆う細胞で発現し、匂い物質(匂いの感知に関与する受容体に結合する物質)の除去に関係する酵素をコードしている。


A genetic risk factor that influences whether an individual is likely to experience a loss of smell or taste as symptoms of COVID-19 is revealed in a paper published in Nature Genetics. The genetic locus — situated near two genes, UGT2A1 and UGT2A2 — is associated with an 11% increase in the chance of developing either of these symptoms following SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Loss of smell or taste are distinctive symptoms of COVID-19; however, not all individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience them, with the mechanisms responsible unclear.

Adam Auton and colleagues performed a genome-wide association study using online survey data collected from 69,841 (63% female; 37% male) research participants aged over 18 years, living in the United States or the United Kingdom. The authors found that a set of variants located near the two genes UGT2A1 and UGT2A2 increased the likelihood that an individual will experience a loss of smell or taste following SARS-CoV-2 infection by 11%. Both genes encode enzymes that are expressed in cells that line the inside of the nose and are involved in eliminating odorants that bind to receptors involved in smell detection.

This discovery provides clues into the biological mechanisms that underlie COVID-19-related loss of smell or taste. The authors caution, however, that despite a large sample size, the study is biased towards individuals of European ancestry. Distinction must also be made between loss of taste and loss of smell, which were combined in a single survey question herein. Potential clinical replication — rather than relying on self-reported symptoms — could also be beneficial, they conclude.

doi: 10.1038/s41588-021-00986-w


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