Studies have shown a low prevalence of smokers in hospitals with Covid-19.
If the findings are proven, scientists say it’s likely that not cigarettes – filled with thousands of harmful chemicals – would provide potential protection, but the nicotine that is beneficial.
One theory violated by scientists is that nicotine reduces ACE-2 receptors, proteins in the body to which the virus binds to infect cells.
The coronavirus enters cells in the body through the structures that cover the surface of some cells, including the airways and lungs.
When nicotine decreases the expression of ACE-2, it becomes more difficult for viral particles to enter cells and thereby cause an infection.
On the other hand, other studies show that nicotine improves the action of the ACE-2 receptor, theoretically putting smokers at greater risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Other scientists say that low levels of ACE-2 expression due to nicotine may prevent worse damage from viral infection, and there is no evidence to say that larger amounts of ACE-2 receptors increase the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. the first raise place.
Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos, from the University of Western Attica, Greece, who asked in a May 9 paper whether nicotine could be a cure for Covid-19, said, “Up-regulation of ACE2, while seemingly paradoxical, may actually protect provide patients with serious illness and lung injury. ‘
A 2008 study in mice found that getting rid of ACE-2 increased the likelihood of severe breathing difficulties in the animals when infected with the SARS virus, which is almost identical to Covid-19.
Other scientists have turned their heads to nicotine’s ability to prevent inflammation, where the evidence is more robust.
Nicotine has been shown to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF, IL-1 and IL-6, which are involved in promoting an inflammatory response.
A “cytokine storm” is a phenomenon in which an abundance of cytokines is released in response to infection.
Doctors have previously said that it is often the body’s response to the virus, not the virus itself, that plays a big role in how sick a person gets.
A cytokine storm can lead to respiratory failure and the attack of healthy tissues, leading to multi-organ failure.
Therefore, the cytokine storm is considered a target for treatment with COVID-19.
“Nicotine has effects on the immune system that may be beneficial in reducing the intensity of the cytokine storm,” Dr. Farsalinos in Internal and emergency medicine.
“The potential benefits of nicotine … may explain, in part, the increased severity or adverse effects of hospitalized smokers on COVID-19, as these patients inevitably stop abruptly taking nicotine during hospitalization.
“This may be possible by reallocating already approved pharmaceutical nicotine products such as nicotine patches.”
Dr. Nicola Gaibazzi, who recently published findings on MedRxiv of ‘very low’ numbers of smokers in Italian COVID-19 patients, speculates that exposure to smoke may boost the immune system.
He said that exposure to cigarette smoke decreases the body’s immune system over time, measured by lower inflammatory markers.
Therefore, when smokers are infected with a virus such as SARS-CoV-2, their immune system is more “tolerant” and does not overreact.
On the other hand, non-smokers are more prone to the sudden and deadly cytokine storm when infected with the virus.