NOX2 and NOX5 are increased in cardiac microvascular endothelium of deceased COVID-19 patients

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BACKGROUND: Cardiac injury and inflammation are common findings in COVID-19 patients. Autopsy studies have revealed cardiac microvascular endothelial damage and thrombosis in COVID-19 patients, indicative of microvascular dysfunction in which reactive oxygen species (ROS) may play a role. We explored whether the ROS producing proteins NOX2, NOX4 and NOX5 are involved in COVID-19-induced cardio-microvascular endothelial dysfunction.

METHODS: Heart tissue were taken from the left (LV) and right (RV) ventricle of COVID-19 patients (n = 15) and the LV of controls (n = 14) at autopsy. The NOX2-, NOX4-, NOX5- and Nitrotyrosine (NT)-positive intramyocardial blood vessels fractions were quantitatively analyzed using immunohistochemistry.

RESULTS: The LV NOX2+, NOX5+ and NT+ blood vessels fractions in COVID-19 patients were significantly higher than in controls. The fraction of NOX4+ blood vessels in COVID-19 patients was comparable with controls. In COVID-19 patients, the fractions of NOX2+, NOX5+ and NT+ vessels did not differ significantly between the LV and RV, and correlated positively between LV and RV in case of NOX5 (r = 0.710; p = 0.006). A negative correlation between NOX5 and NOX2 (r = -0.591; p = 0.029) and between NOX5 and disease time (r = -0.576; p = 0.034) was noted in the LV of COVID-19 patients.

CONCLUSION: We show the induction of NOX2 and NOX5 in the cardiac microvascular endothelium in COVID-19 patients, which may contribute to the previously observed cardio-microvascular dysfunction in COVID-19 patients. The exact roles of these NOXes in pathogenesis of COVID-19 however remain to be elucidated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-462
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of cardiology
Early online date2 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Heart
  • Microvasculature
  • NOX2
  • NOX5

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