The aberrant expression level of SARS-CoV-2 cell receptor gene ACE2 was reported in lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD) comorbidity of COVID-19. However, the association of ACE2 expression levels with immunosuppression and metabolic reprogramming in LUAD remains lacking. We investigated the expression level of ACE2, an association of ACE2 expression level with various types of immune signatures, immune ratios, and pathways. We employed a weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) R package to identify the gene modules and investigated prognostic roles of hub genes in LUAD. Overexpression of ACE2 level was found in LUAD and ACE2 expression was negatively associated with various types of immune signatures including CD8+ T cells, CD4+ regulatory T cells, NK cells, and T cell activation. Besides, ACE2 upregulation was not only associated with CD8+ T cell/CD4+ regulatory T cell ratios but also linked with downregulation of immune-markers including CD8A, KLRC1, GZMA, GZMB, NKG7, CCL4, and IFNG. Moreover, the ACE2 expression level was found to be associated with the enrichment level of various metabolic pathways and it was also found that the metabolic pathways are directly positively correlated with the increased expression levels of ACE2, indicating that the overexpression of ACE2 is associated with metabolic reprogramming in LUAD. Furthermore, WGCNA based analysis revealed the gene modules in the high-ACE2-expression-level group of LUAD and identified GCLC and SLC7A11 hub genes which are not only highly expressed in lung adenocarcinoma but also correlated with the poor survival prognosis. Our analysis of ACE2 in LUAD tissues suggests that ACE2 is not only a receptor but is also associated with immunosuppression and metabolic reprogramming. This study underlines the clue for understanding the clinical significance of ACE2 in COVID-19 patients with LUAD comorbidity.
Objective To determine the differences in the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection of patients based on sex and disease severity. Methods We used an analytical framework of 382 transcriptional modules and multi-omics analyses to discriminate COVID-19 patients based on sex and disease severity. Results Male and female patients overexpressed modules related to the innate immune response. The expression of modules related to the adaptive immune response showed lower enrichment levels in males than females. Inflammation modules showed ascending overexpression in male and female patients, while a higher level was observed in severe female patients. Moderate female patients demonstrated significant overexpression to interferon, cytolytic lymphocyte, T & B cells, and erythrocytes modules. Moderate female patients showed a higher adaptive immune response than males matched group. Pathways involved in metabolism dysregulation and Hippo signaling were upregulated in females than in male patients. Females and moderate cases showed higher levels of metabolic dysregulation. Conclusions The immune landscape in COVID-19 patients was noticeably different between the sexes, and these differences may highlight disease vulnerability in males. This study suggested that certain treatments that increase or decrease the immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 might be necessary for male and female patients at certain disease stages.