Maintaining blood sugar levels may be beneficial in the fight against COVID-19. A report published in the Journal of Medical Virology outlines how control of blood glucose of those infected with COVID-19 may help control the severity of the disease.
As more research is released about COVID-19, the connection between blood sugar levels and the virus is becoming apparent. An above-average number of COVID-19 patients have diabetes, are pre-diabetic, or are undiagnosed diabetics. This information has led researchers to suggest that blood sugar may interact with the virus.
Studies have shown that the coronavirus infects cells by attaching to the surface through a receptor called the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE2. Both the ACE2 and the virus need sugar molecules bound to their protein for this to work properly. Researchers believe this may suggest that COVID-19 infection and its severity is influenced by the concentration of sugar-coated virus and the concentration of sugar-coated ACE2 receptors in the lung tissues.
One fact that researchers already know is that people with diabetes are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Many patients who are in the hospital not only have diabetes and pre-diabetes but others have high blood sugar, many without even being aware of it. A recent report from Wuhan, China, also states the same connection between COVID-19 and blood sugar.
One study has shown how high blood sugar levels increase the coated ACE2 receptors in the lungs of diabetic mice. This means that not only are the number of receptors greater, but there are also more sugars attached to them. This makes it easier for the virus to infect the cells.
An excellent way of producing more insulin and having less sugar in the body is through diet and exercise. The lower the blood sugar level, the fewer ACE2 receptors and less sugar in the body. Because of this, researchers suggest that a high blood sugar test called hemoglobin A1c could potentially be used as a marker for patients at risk for COVID-19 disease.
Clinical Trials of Hydroxychloroquine
For many years, a drug called hydroxychloroquine has been used in clinical trials to reduce the number of breast cancer cells in the bone marrow and prevent their re-emergence years later. This drug is the same that has been front and center in the news headlines recently as an antimalarial drug that has been suggested as a treatment for COVID-19. While no conclusive evidence has proved it as effective against the virus, it has been shown to lower blood sugar levels similar to another popular drug, metformin.
Preliminary trials say the drug has no effect on COVID-19, but more testing is underway.