Differences in saliva ACE2 activity among infected and non-infected adult and pediatric population exposed to SARS-CoV-2

Daniel Jiménez, Javier Martínez-Sanz, Talía Sainz, Cristina Calvo, Ana Méndez-Echevarría, Elena Moreno, Daniel Blázquez-Gamero, Pilar Vizcarra, Mario Rodríguez, Robert Jenkins, Matilde Sánchez-Conde, Raquel Ron, Francesca Norman, Santiago Moreno, Manuel Ferrer, Sergio Serrano-Villar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Variations in the ACE2 activity in saliva could explain the striking differences of susceptibility to infection and risk of severe disease. Methods: We analyze the activity of ACE2 in saliva in different population groups across a wide age range and disease status during April to June 2020, before SARS-CoV-2 vaccine implementation, and we establish differences between infected people and participants considered resistant (highly exposed healthcare workers and children who cohabited with parents with COVID-19 without isolation and remain IgG negative). Results: We included 74 adults, of which 47 (64%) were susceptible and 27 (36%) were resistant, and 79 children, of which 41 (52%) were susceptible and 38 (48%) were resistant. Resistant adults have significantly lower ACE2 activity in saliva than susceptible adults and non-significant higher values than susceptible and resistant children. ACE2 activity is similar in the susceptible and resistant pediatric population (p = 0.527). In contrast, we observe an increase in activity as the disease's severity increases among the adult population (mild disease vs. severe disease, 39 vs. 105 FU, p = 0.039; severe disease vs. resistant, 105 vs. 31 FU, p < 0.001). Conclusions: using an enzymatic test, we show that ACE2 activity in saliva correlates with the susceptibility to SARS-Cov-2 infection and disease severity. Children and adults with low-susceptibility to SARS-Cov-2 infection showed the lowest ACE2 activity. These findings could inform future strategies to identify at-risk individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-89
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Infection
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ACE2
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Saliva
  • Severity
  • Susceptibility


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