The emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has resulted in >500,000 deaths worldwide, including >125,000 deaths in the U.S. since its emergence in late December 2019 and June 2020. Neither curative anti-viral drugs nor a protective vaccine is currently available for the treatment and prevention of COVID-19. Recently, new clinical syndromes associated with coagulopathy and vasculopathy have emerged as a cause of sudden death and other serious clinical manifestations in younger patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the receptor for SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses, is a transmembrane protein expressed by lung alveolar epithelial cells, enterocytes, and vascular endothelial cells, whose physiologic role is to induce the maturation of angiotensin I to generate angiotensin 1-7, a peptide hormone that controls vasoconstriction and blood pressure. In this review, we provide the general context of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection with a focus on endothelial cells, describe the vasculopathy and coagulopathy syndromes in patients with SARS-CoV-2, and outline current understanding of the underlying mechanistic aspects.
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