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From the article
Female reproductive steroids, estrogen and progesterone and its physiologically active metabolite, allopregnanolone, provide anti-inflammatory functions, reshape competence of immune cells, stimulate antibody production and promote respiratory epithelial cell repair, and inhibit the ACE2 receptor, the door of access for the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) to infect the organism, suggesting they may protect against COVID-19 symptoms, according to Pinna’s report. The paper is published in Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Pinna became interested in the role of reproductive steroids in COVID-19 pathology in March when early case reports showed COVID-19 positive pregnant women who had no COVID-19 symptoms, had escalated symptoms – severe enough to require intensive care – immediately after giving birth. The severity of symptoms coincided with a rapid drop of estradiol, progesterone, and allopregnanolone.
“Hormones that help sustain the pregnancy – like progesterone – are 100 times more concentrated in a pregnancy’s third trimester. Estradiol, allopregnanolone, and progesterone all have important anti-inflammatory functions and are involved in resetting the immune system. This suggests that pregnant women became symptomatic, and some were even admitted to the ICU, after delivering their babies because of the rapid drop in these hormones,” said Pinna. “The correlation was really striking.”
According to recent CDC data, in the United States, 38,071 women who were pregnant contracted COVID-19, with 51 deaths – 0.13%. For non-pregnant women, the death toll is 2%.
“Pregnant women are 15 times less likely to die from COVID than other women,” said Pinna.
Additionally, nutrition may also play a role when diets are enriched with phytoestrogens – plant-produced ‘estrogen’ – (in foods such as soybeans, lentils, oats). Phytoestrogens have the ability to bind directly to human estrogen receptors, or can be converted to estradiol by the microbiome.