Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a key receptor mediating the entry of SARS-CoV-2 into the host cell. Through a systematic analysis of publicly available mouse brain sc/snRNA-seq data, we found that ACE2 is specifically expressed in small sub-populations of endothelial cells and mural cells, namely pericytes and vascular smooth muscle cells. Further, functional changes in viral mRNA transcription and replication, and impaired blood-brain barrier regulation were most prominently implicated in the aged, ACE2-expressing endothelial cells, when compared to the young adult mouse brains. Concordant EC transcriptomic changes were further found in normal aged human brains. Overall, this work reveals an outline of ACE2 distribution in the mouse brain and identify putative brain host cells that may underlie the selective susceptibility of the aging brain to viral infection.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience