A Queensland study has shown that acid reflux patients are more likely to be exposed to Covid-19.
QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute found genes that can cause the digestive disorder. These genes were linked to a 15% rise in the risk of severe Covid-19 or hospitalisation.
The study focused on genes that are thought to cause gastro-oesophageal acid reflux disease (GORD), which is one of Australia’s most prevalent gastrointestinal conditions.
Dr Jue Sheng Ong, QIMR Berghofer researcher said observational studies have indicated a correlation between GORD and Covid-19 due common risk factors such obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Ong stated that their study, published in Human Molecular Genetics journal Thursday, had found a direct connection.
A Queensland study found that people with acid reflux may be more susceptible to Covid-19 (stock photo).
GORD and Covid-19 were found to be associated in observational studies. This was due to common risk factors like obesity, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease. (pictured: health care workers at a Covid vaccine hub in Melbourne).
Dr. Ong stated that genes linked to GORD were associated with a 15% increase in the risk for severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation.
“We then used statistical modelling in order to determine whether common risk factors might be driving the association.
“Our analysis concluded that obesity was responsible for a portion of the relationship between GORD risk and Covid-19 risk, but not all of it.
“These findings suggest that GORD could play a direct causal part in increasing the risk for Covid-19 hospitalisation.”
The study analysed large-scale genetic data from the UK Biobank and QIMR Berghofer’s QSkin studies, as well as The Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative.
Dr. Ong stated that the research was assisted by QIMR Berghofer research earlier in the year, which had identified new genes associated with acid reflux.
He said, “We have now identified 88 genes or genetic marker that are associated with acid reflux.”
“That allowed us to take the next step.”
Dr. Ong said that it was unclear if the increased risk for severe Covid-19 and hospitalisation is due to GORD, or to the treatments people received after being diagnosed. Further research is needed.
The study was directed by QIMR Berghofer’s Prof Stuart MacGregor and was funded in part by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.
Dr Jue Sheng Ong, QIMR Berghofer researcher, said that the study findings suggest acid reflux could possibly play a direct factor in increasing the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation.