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The William Harvey Research Institute - Barts and The London

New study links COVID-19 genetic susceptibility with blood clots, thrombophlebitis and circulatory diseases

Research led by Queen Mary University of London associates genetically predicted COVID-19 susceptibility with increased blood clot events in legs and lungs, thrombophlebitis, and circulatory diseases.

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The study used a Phenome-wide (PheWAS) analysis in up to 400,000 European ancestry individuals, derived from the UK Biobank. Researchers aimed to identify traits and diseases associated with COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. The team constructed a predictive COVID-19 genetic score, using the sum of COVID-19 risk alleles for each individual in the UK Biobank. Using PheWAS analysis, the score was examined against all available traits and diseases in UK Biobank, adjusted for confounders, in a hypothesis-free manner.

The study found that genetically predicted COVID-19 is significantly associated with an 11% increased risk of phlebitis and thrombophlebitis, a 10% increased risk of blood clots in the leg and a 12% increased risk of blood clots in the lung.

Areti Papadopoulou, first author and PhD student at Queen Mary University of London said: “This analysis was conducted to determine if genetically predicted COVID-19 susceptibility and severity is associated with other diseases and traits, examining all of them in a hypothesis-free way. The results from our study add valuable information for the identification and stratification of individuals at increased COVID-19 risk and other complications after infection.”

Dr Eirini Marouli, study lead and Senior Lecturer in Computational Biology at Queen Mary University of London added: “Our study identifies significant associations of genetically predicted COVID-19 susceptibility with increased risk of phlebitis, thrombophlebitis and circulatory diseases. In addition to that, we found that general COVID-19 susceptibility is associated with an increased risk of blood clots in leg and lung; factors reported to be involved in COVID-19 severity and mortality. Our findings could have further significance for individuals with Long COVID complications.”

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