A meta-analysis of gene expression signatures for diastolic, systolic blood pressure and hypertension found that out of 7717 unique, related genes 34 were most differentialy expressed across 7017 individuals from 6 international studies. No less than 20% of the 34 gene's, were located on Chromosome 19. Enrichment analysis for the diastolic and systolic gene group's associated to Natural Killer (NK) Cell mediated cytotoxicity and 13 other pathways including antigen processing and inflammatory response, pointing strongly to innate and adaptive immunity.
I covered the NK origin of MHC and antigen immunity and reproduction at Chromosome 19 on a previous blog, now the meta-analysis adds infection, immunity and blood pressure to this location. Evolutionary detectives tracked events from Chromosome 19 to 1,6 and 9 via transposon re-combination events, which provided further direction for interpreting the blood pressure meta-analysis. A review of the genes and pathways involved increasingly characterized innate immunity as an integrated core component of almost every aspect of our skeletal, circulatory, tissue and neuronal systems.
Blood pressure is enormously complex, but its governance of entropy under the mechanical laws of molecular diffusion and disassociation reign supreme. Renin-Angiotensin (RAS) genes are widely recognized to be the cornerstones needed for blood pressure. Innate immune cells including NK have been confirmed to possess and express RAS genes. Macrophages, a member of innate immune system have been linked to angiotensin signaling neuropathic pain as well as bacterial infection inducing pain suppression by angiotensin 2 receptor (AT2R). Maternal NK cells AT1R and AT2R have been implicated in the control of localized blood pressure in placental tissues leading to preeclampsia a condition in pregnancy.
In various studies, including in disease conditions it has been shown and suggested that different male:female ratios between AT1R and AT2R in monocytes and other innate cells is an important factor in the determination of blood pressure that has been extensively studied in heart and lung conditions. AT2R plays a critical role in satellite cell differentiation and skeletal muscle regeneration via myoblasts, which may be the reason it's expressed ubiquitously in developing fetal tissue. It's likely that balance between AT1R and AT2R signaling is critical for normal muscle regeneration.
In addition to the role of NK cells in blood pressure a study using lung-intravital microscopy linked pulmonary NK cells to the control of neutrophil intravascular motility, response to acute inflammation and diminished pathogenic accumulation. NK cell derived IFN-γ plays an important role in the activation and maturation of monocytes into macrophages and dendritic cells, an amplifying mechanism in the early innate inflammatory response. Angiotensin II can induce rapid neutrophil infiltration via AT1R that also stimulates leucocyte–endothelium interactions. Inhibited IFN-γ signaling ameliorated Angiotensin II induced cardiac damage, which led to a finding that NK-cells play an essential role in the induced vascular dysfunction.
Pathophysiology of Covid19 demonstrates that NK cells are depleted and neutrophils infiltrate into lung tissue leading to tissue damage and escalation of the disease. By SARS-CoV2 binding the Ace2 receptor of vascular epithelial and other cells, the conversion of Angiotensin II is blocked (image above), therefore upregulated. Increased levels of Angiotensin II were shown to induce NK cells to release IFN-γ. On recruitment to inflammatory sites, NK-cells release IFN-γ and engage with monocytes in a reciprocal program of activation in which monocytes mature into macrophages and dendritic cells. NK exhaustion results and is a known outcome that may relate to IFN-γ levels. However, in patients with high expression of Ace2, NK cell counts are lower and cytokine expressions do not show up during the initial disease state pointing to the role of accumulating Angiotensin II.
|Covid19 Meta Analysis|
The image above shows distribution of expression (y axis) for ACE2, PCSKs (blood pressure mediation) and TMPRSS2 (CoV2 S1 cleavage) across lung cell types (x axis). It completes the picture that Corin-Furin mediated control over blood pressure normalization is a significant component of Covid19 disease progression and NK cells are a central player.
Molecules targeting RAS are a major focus of inhibitory or complementary therapeutic design, but a modified NK cell that is shielded from SARS-CoV2 may be the tool-in-the-shed our immune systems need.