Houston-based the University of Texas Health Science Center and Baylor College of Medicine's adult physicians and pediatricians have teamed up investigating the difference between children's and adults' immune function and lung physiology, which makes children more often spared from severe illness of coronavirus than adults.
American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology has recently published the perspectives paper. The paper mention that among the first 149,082 cases in the US, only roughly 1.7% of cases were children, infants, and adolescents younger than 18 years old. The researchers also noted that adolescent under 18 years counts 22% of the US population. As of April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified only 3 deaths.
In the published paper, the author wrote that the acutely decreased rates of symptomatic infection, death, and hospitalization are well beyond statistical significance, require in-depth examination, and might hold the key to rectify therapeutic agents.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2s, called ACE2, is the entrance that enables SARS-CoV-2, the new virus causing COVID-19, to enter the cells of the body, and naturally, children have less ACE2 in their lungs than adults.
Texas-based UTHealth's McGovern Medical School's pediatric surgery department's assistant professor and senior author of the paper, Matthew Harting, said that ACE2 is vital for virus entry into the body and ACE2 seems to be present in less amount in children as ACE2 increases with respect to age.
Matthew Harting has also assisted Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital as a director of the pediatric ECMO program offering advanced respiratory and cardiac support.
The author also noted that fewer ACE2 receptors also favor the strong immune system in children that respond to viruses differently from that of adults. This also leads to fewer opportunities for severe coronavirus illness in pediatric patients. However, there are many different mechanisms behind the variations, which include the T-cells retention in children that are able to battle against or limit inflammation.
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