Study reveals blood tests can offer early indicator of severe Covid

Study reveals blood tests can offer early indicator of severe Covid
WASHINGTON: A recent study has shown that a range of biomarkers, or biological signals, associated with white blood cell activation and obesity can have serious consequences in Covid-19 patients.
The research findings are published in the journal & # 39; Blood Advances & # 39 ;.
When patients with Covid-19 arrive at the emergency room, there are relatively few ways for doctors to predict which patients are likely to become seriously ill and need intensive care and which patients will recover more quickly. However, this study focuses on biomarkers that can help predict serious outcomes in Covid-19 patients.
"Patients with high levels of these markers were much more in need of intensive care, ventilation, or death as a result of their Covid-19," said Dr. Hyung Chun, the lead author, an associate professor of medicine in cardiovascular medicine and pathology. and director of translational research at the Yale Pulmonary Vascular Disease Program.
Previously, a few laboratory studies had identified possible indicators of severe Covid-19, including D-dimer levels, a measure of blood clotting, and levels of proteins known as cytokines, which are released as part of inflammatory responses in the body. Until now, however, no laboratory marker could predict which patients with Covid-19 would eventually become severely ill before showing clinical signs and symptoms of serious illness.
For the new study, Yale researchers used proteomic profiling – a screen for multiple proteins in the blood – to analyze samples taken from 100 patients who would experience varying levels of COVID-19 severity. In all cases, blood samples were taken on the patient's first day of admission. The researchers also analyzed clinical data from more than 3,000 additional patients with Covid-19 within the Yale New Haven Hospital System.
They found that five proteins (resistin, lipocalin-2, HGF, IL-8 and G-CSF) associated with neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, were elevated in the Covid-19 patients who later became severely ill. Many of these proteins had previously been associated with obesity, but not with Covid-19 or other viral diseases.
In particular, the elevated neutrophil biomarkers for patients who would begin to experience more severe symptoms were evident before those symptoms appeared. All Covid-19 patients admitted or transferred to the ICU had elevated neutrophil activation markers, while these biomarkers remained low for patients who never developed serious disease. None of the patients with lower neutrophil biomarker levels died.
"This is one of the first demonstrations that a range of biomarkers in the blood of Covid patients can predict eventual ICU admission even before such patients become seriously ill," said study author Dr. Alfred Lee, associate professor of medicine in hematology, director of the Yale Medical Oncology-Hematology Fellowship Program, and a member of the Yale Cancer Center.
Early knowledge of these indicators could significantly improve patient treatment, the researchers said.
“If a diagnostic test (for these biomarkers) could be ordered early, it could give us a better idea of ​​who is more likely to become seriously ill and we will benefit from a higher level of care and consideration for therapies that affect the immune system early during their hospitalization, '' said Chun.
Chun added, "Many of these drugs have potential side effects, and these tests can help identify those patients who will benefit most from them."
The study also underscored the link between Covid-19 and obesity, researchers said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that obesity and severe obesity increase the risk of serious illness from Covid-19. Obesity triples the risk of hospitalization from Covid-19, and body mass index levels have been found to correlate with the risk of death from Covid-19.
Neutrophils are inflammatory cells, Lee said, so it makes sense that they would be elevated in the context of both obesity – which involves chronic, low-grade inflammation – and Covid-19, which causes hyperinflammation in the most severe cases, leading to tissue damage and organ failure. .
"There is also some evidence that neutrophils can participate in thrombosis or blood clotting," said Lee, another alarming feature of Covid-19.
The researchers will expand their research into the relationship between biomarkers and Covid-19 by looking at patients who have recovered from acute illness.
"We hope these findings motivate other groups to look at their own patient populations," said Chun, adding that they need additional validation studies that would support the development of diagnostic tests for these biomarkers.
"The evolution of our findings really demonstrates the power of collaboration that has emerged as a hopeful aspect of this devastating pandemic that we will continue to leverage for the benefit of patients," said Lee.

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