Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and like other cells do have ACE2 receptors and may be able to be infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In more severe cases of symptomatic infection the disease progresses beyond respiratory symptoms to include vascular symptoms and increased risk of blood clots and strokes. Some patients had vascular symptoms without having had severe respiratory symptoms. The illness is unlike other respiratory viral infections and may involve infection of the vascular endothelial cells as well.
- Further discussion of the unusual vascular symptoms and endothelial cell theory is available in this article by Dana Smith, Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything: https://elemental.medium.com/coronavirus-may-be-a-blood-vessel-disease-which-explains-everything-2c4032481ab2
The vascular symptoms can also be caused by the body’s natural response to infection to move iron from hemoglobin in red blood cells into storage in other cells where it could be less available to a pathogenic microbe. Anemia of chronic infection or chronic inflammation can result from the shift of iron. Too little hemoglobin means too little oxygen carrying capacity in the blood.
For whatever cause, viral entry of vascular endothelial cells or anemia of chronic infection, the good news is that vitamin C and other nutrients help strengthen vascular walls and reduce inflammatory cytokine production, and reduce risk of blood clots,
“Vitamin C protects blood vessel lining. The endothelial cells lining blood vessels form a tight barrier, which is weakened (permeabilized) by inflammation. Vitamin C tightens the endothelial barrier and maintains its integrity during inflammation”Vitamin C Protects Blood Vessel Lining, VUMC Reporter, https://news.vumc.org/2015/09/04/vitamin-c-blood-vessel-lining/
Bioflavonoids, and other polyphenols and antioxidants would all still be helpful treatments for reducing oxidative stress, strengthening blood vessels, preventing coagulation, and reducing cytokine storm. See previous post for more information on bioflavonoids which also help reduce blood clotting risk and may act as decongestants if enough is eaten – Bitter taste receptors in the lungs & Hesperidin’s decongestant properties.
Other phytonutrients that may help against SARS-CoV-2 infection are listed in this post: Phytonutrients that may help against SARS-CoV-2.
Foods that may help if intestinal inflammation is also a problem (GI discomfort, diarrhea, a few points about nausea relief) ACE2, Diarrhea, & COVID19 – it gets complicated.
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