Researchers identify biomarkers indicating risk of complications with COVID-19

Posted at 3:54 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 15:54:50-04

Is it possible that a blood test could predict if COVID-19 is deadly for you?

Researchers at George Washington University have identified five key biomarkers that they believe indicate how deathly ill an infected person with COVID-19 might become.

These five biomarkers are basically medical indicators found in blood. And they can indicate a person’s risks of complications like inflammation and bleeding disorders. The researchers figured this out by testing the blood of 299 patients sick with COVID-19. And what they found out was that 200 of these people all had these five biomarkers. And higher levels were linked to several things: an increased risk of being admitted to the intensive care unit, a higher risk of needing invasive ventilator support and, sadly, an increased risk of death.

The 5 biomarkers are:

• Interleukin 6 or “IL-6” for short. These are cytokine immune cells and can indicate if inflammation has gotten out of control.

• Next is something called “D-dimers." They are degraded proteins that can signal if blood vessels are being attacked.

• The third biomarker is C-reactive protein or CRP, for short. The liver releases these when responding to inflammation.

• The fourth marker is Lactate Dehydrogenase or LDH. The body sends this enzyme to heal damaged tissues.

• And lastly, a protein called Ferritin. It helps cells store iron. And if we have too much or not enough of ferritin, then you might have anemia or possibly an infection that's hampering how blood cells function.

There are two biomarkers - the LDH and D-dimer levels - that indicate a higher risk of death. If the numbers are high, then based on the research, there is a higher risk of death. But on the positive side, these 5 biomarkers can really help doctors figure out which patients might need early treatment or ventilator support.

Right now, doctors are using general risk factors - for instance, a patient’s age and any underlying health conditions like obesity, heart disease to try and figure out who might develop severe disease. So hopefully a simple blood test looking at these biomarkers will really help when it comes patients’ treatment and helping them survive a severe COVID-19 infection.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

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