Patients with a higher polygenic risk score (PRS) or history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) were more likely to have severe COVID-19 disease, according to the results of a recent study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

A polygenic risk score was calculated for study participants by using 112 single nucleotide polymorphisms thought to be related to COVID-19 disease severity. Any history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was also factored into overall risk. Logistic regression models were then used to examine associations of genetic risk and/or COPD and COVID-19 disease severity.

Among the 430,582 participants from the UK Biobank study, 712 developed severe COVID-19 during the study. Of these 712, 19.8% had pre-existing COPD. When comparing polygenic risk scores, those with low risk scores had a lower chance of developing severe COVID-19 when compared with either the intermediate or high polygenic risk scores groups.


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The study authors wrote, “The PRS which combines multiple risk alleles can be effectively used in screening for high-risk populations of severe COVID-19.” They added, “High genetic risk correlates with a higher risk of severe COVID-19, regardless of pre-existing COPD.”

Reference

Huang QM, Zhang PD, Li ZH, et al. Genetic risk and COPD independently predict the risk of incident severe COVID-19. Ann Am Thorac Soc. Published online July 9, 2021. doi:10.1513/AnnalsATS.202102-171OC

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor