Press Release

Coronavirus damages the endocrine system

Washington, DC July 02, 2020

Steroids may offer vital COVID-19 treatment strategy

People with endocrine disorders may see their condition worsen as a result of COVID-19according to a new review published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

We explored the previous SARS outbreak caused by the very similar virus SARS-CoV-1 to advise endocrinologists involved in the care of patients with COVID-19,” said Noel Pratheepan Somasundaram of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka. “The virus that causes COVID-19SARS-CoV-2binds to the ACE2 receptor, a protein which is expressed in many tissuesThis allows the virus to enter endocrine cells and cause the mayhem associated with the disease.”

SARS-CoV-can cause loss of smell and gain entry to the brain. In past coronavirus infections such as the SARS epidemic in 2003many patients developed a post-viral syndrome with fatigue. This could in part be caused by adrenal insufficiency, a condition where the adrenal glands do not make enough cortisol, as a result of damage to the pituitary system. During the SARS epidemic, patients who developed adrenal insufficiency typically recovered within one year.

Testing for cortisol deficiency and treating patients with steroids may become a vital treatment strategy,” Somasundaram said. “Very recent studies have demonstrated lowered mortality in severely-ill patients with COVID-19 treated with the steroid dexamethasone.

COVID-19 also could lead to new cases of diabetes and worsening of existing diabetes. The SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to ACE2, the main entry point into cells for coronavirus, and disrupts insulin production, causing high blood glucose levels in some patientsThe authors highlight the need for strict glucose monitoring in patients with COVID-19 as a measure to maximize recovery.

"People with vitamin D deficiency may be more susceptible to coronavirus and supplementation could improve outcomes, though evidence on the subject is mixed,” Somasundaram said.

Other authors include: Ishara RanathungaVithiya RatnasamyPiyumi Sachindra Alwis Wijewickrama, Harsha Anuruddhika Dissanayake, Nilukshana YogendranathanManilkaSumanatilleke and Kavinga Kalhari Kobawaka Gamage of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka; Nipun Lakshitha de Silva of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka and the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University in Colombo, Sri Lanka; Prasad Katulanda of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka and the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka; and Ashley Barry Grossman of the University of Oxford and Queen Mary University of London in the United Kingdom.

The study received no external funding.

The manuscript“The Impact of SARS-Cov-2 Virus Infection on the Endocrine System,” was published online.

 

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Endocrinologists are at the core of solving the most pressing health problems of our time, from diabetes and obesity to infertility, bone health, and hormone-related cancers. The Endocrine Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of scientists devoted to hormone research and physicians who care for people with hormone-related conditions.

The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.


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