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Blood Test for Combined Measurements of WBCs and Biomarkers Can Predict COVID-19 Severity

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 04 Oct 2021
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Image: Granulocytes are part of the innate immune system - the body’s first line of defence against pathogens (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Image: Granulocytes are part of the innate immune system - the body’s first line of defence against pathogens (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Combined measurements of characteristics of white blood cells called granulocytes and well-known biomarkers in the blood of COVID-19 patients can predict the severity of the disease, according to a new study.

The study by researchers at the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden) aimed at providing a comprehensive overview of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in hospitalized patients with moderate or severe COVID-19. The findings which showed that COVID-19 disease severity seems to be affected by granulocytes, which are part of the innate immune system, could eventually contribute to more tailored treatments for COVID-19 patients.

Granulocytes are a family of white blood cells that include neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils. They are part of the so-called innate immune system, which is the body’s first line of defence against pathogens. There are many studies on how SARS-CoV-2 affects various components of the immune system, but there is still a lack of knowledge about the role of granulocytes in COVID-19.

In the latest study, the researchers investigated the characteristics of granulocytes in the blood during the early phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a total of 26 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. They also performed follow-up analyses four months after hospital discharge and compared these with analyses of healthy uninfected individuals. The study found that combined measurements of granulocyte characteristics and widely used biomarkers in the blood called C-reactive protein (CRP) and creatinine, could predict key clinical features such as respiratory function and multi-organ failure.

“Our study shows significantly altered characteristics of all granulocyte subsets in COVID-19 patients and this can be linked to the severity of the disease,” said lead author Magda Lourda, who is a researcher at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, at Karolinska Institutet. “The finding needs to be taken with caution considering the limited size of our study cohort, but our hope is that these combined measurements can be used to predict the severity of the disease, resulting in more tailored treatments for COVID-19 patients.”

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Karolinska Institutet

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