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J Endocrinol Invest ; 44(8): 1553-1570, 2021 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1083410


BACKGROUND: A new harmful respiratory disease, called COVID-19 emerged in China in December 2019 due to the infection of a novel coronavirus, called SARS-Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which belongs to the betacoronavirus genus, including SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV. SARS-CoV-2 shares almost 80% of the genome with SARS-CoV-1 and 50% with MERS-CoV. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 proteins share a high degree of homology (approximately 95%) with SARS-CoV-1 proteins. Hence, the mechanisms of SARS-Cov-1 and SARS-Cov-2 infection are similar and occur via binding to ACE2 protein, which is widely distributed in the human body, with a predominant expression in endocrine tissues including testis, thyroid, adrenal and pituitary. PURPOSE: On the basis of expression pattern of the ACE2 protein among different tissues, similarity between SARS-Cov-1 and SARS-Cov-2 and the pathophysiology of COVID-19 disease, we aimed at discussing, after almost one-year pandemic, about the relationships between COVID-19 infection and the endocrine system. First, we discussed the potential effect of hormones on the susceptibility to COVID-19 infection; second, we examined the evidences regarding the effect of COVID-19 on the endocrine system. When data were available, a comparative discussion between SARS and COVID-19 effects was also performed. METHODS: A comprehensive literature search within Pubmed was performed. This review has been conducted according to the PRISMA statements. RESULTS: Among 450, 100 articles were selected. Tissue and vascular damages have been shown on thyroid, adrenal, testis and pituitary glands, with multiple alterations of endocrine function. CONCLUSION: Hormones may affect patient susceptibility to COVID-19 infection but evidences regarding therapeutic implication of these findings are still missing. SARS and COVID-19 may affect endocrine glands and their dense vascularization, impairing endocrine system function. A possible damage of endocrine system in COVID-19 patients should be investigated in both COVID-19 acute phase and recovery to identify both early and late endocrine complications that may be important for patient's prognosis and well-being after COVID-19 infection.

Betacoronavirus/physiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , Endocrine Glands/physiology , Endocrine Glands/virology , COVID-19/complications , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/physiopathology , Disease Susceptibility , Endocrine System Diseases/epidemiology , Endocrine System Diseases/virology , Hormones/physiology , Humans , Pandemics , SARS-CoV-2/physiology