Background: Complement system hyperactivation has been proposed as a potential driver of adverse outcomes in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infected patients, given prior research of complement deposits found in tissue and blood samples, as well as evidence of clinical improvement with anticomplement therapy. Its role in augmenting thrombotic microangiopathy mediated organ damage has also been implicated in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This study aimed to examine associations between complement parameters and progression to severe COVID-19 illness, as well as correlations with other systems. Materials and methods: Blood samples of COVID-19 patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) were analyzed for a wide panel of complement and inflammatory biomarkers. The primary outcome was COVID-19 severity at index ED visit, while the secondary outcome was peak disease severity over the course of illness. Results: Fifty-two COVID-19 patients were enrolled. C3a (p=0.018), C3a/C3 ratio (p=0.002), and sC5b-9/C3 ratio (p=0.021) were significantly elevated in with severe disease at ED presentation. Over the course of illness, C3a (p=0.028) and C3a/C3 ratio (p=0.003) were highest in the moderate severity group. In multivariate regression controlled for confounders, complement hyperactivation failed to predict progression to severe disease. C3a, C3a/C3 ratio, and sC5b-9/C3 ratio were correlated positively with numerous inflammatory biomarkers, fibrinogen, and VWF:Ag, and negatively with plasminogen and ADAMTS13 activity. Conclusion: We found evidence of complement hyperactivation in COVID-19, associated with hyperinflammation and thrombotic microangiopathy. Complement inhibition should be further investigated for potential benefit in patients displaying a hyperinflammatory and microangiopathic phenotype. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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