A recent European study may have found the reason why men are more prone to getting coronavirus. According to the European Heart Journal, men’s blood has higher levels of an enzyme called Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2) which enables the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to infect new cells.

The study, which was published last Monday, compared ACE2 concentration in men’s and women’s lungs, kidneys, and other organs. The enzyme is thought to facilitate COVID-19 progression in the lungs.

Additionally, researchers inquired into the potential increase in ACE2 levels that supplemental drugs may trigger. They found that patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes or kidney disease who had been prescribed ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) did not display any change in ACE2 concentrations.

The drugs, which are worth billions of dollars in sales worldwide, are thought not to alter the patients’ risk of getting the virus.

“Our findings do not support the discontinuation of these drugs in COVID-19 patients,” claimed Adrian Voors, a Dutch cardiology professor from UMC Groningen who supervised the study. More than 3,500 heart failure patients from 11 European countries were sampled and their blood showed no correlation between their drug intake and ACE2 levels.

However, researchers claimed that differing concentrations of ACE2 in men and women may explain why males are more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, as the enzyme latches onto COVID-19 and speeds infection.

“When we found that one of the strongest biomarkers, ACE2, was much higher in men than in women, I realized that this had the potential to explain why men were more likely to die from COVID-19 than women,” stated Iziah Sama, another doctor from UMC Groningen.

Both Sama and Voors located ACE2 on the surface of cells and observed its action in the spread of the virus, while the testes revealed higher levels in the most vulnerable patients.