Iron metabolism and lymphocyte characterisation during Covid-19 infection in ICU patients: an observational cohort study

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  • Giuliano Bolondi, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Emanuele Russo, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Emiliano Gamberini, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Alessandro Circelli, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Manlio Cosimo Claudio Meca, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Etrusca Brogi, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Lorenzo Viola, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Luca Bissoni, Bufalini Hospital Cesena
  • ,
  • Venerino Poletti, Morgagni Hospital
  • ,
  • Vanni Agnoletti, Bufalini Hospital Cesena

BACKGROUND: Iron metabolism and immune response to SARS-CoV-2 have not been described yet in intensive care patients, although they are likely involved in Covid-19 pathogenesis. METHODS: We performed an observational study during the peak of pandemic in our intensive care unit, dosing D-dimer, C-reactive protein, troponin T, lactate dehydrogenase, ferritin, serum iron, transferrin, transferrin saturation, transferrin soluble receptor, lymphocyte count and NK, CD3, CD4, CD8 and B subgroups of 31 patients during the first 2 weeks of their ICU stay. Correlation with mortality and severity at the time of admission was tested with the Spearman coefficient and Mann-Whitney test. Trends over time were tested with the Kruskal-Wallis analysis. RESULTS: Lymphopenia is severe and constant, with a nadir on day 2 of ICU stay (median 0.555 109/L; interquartile range (IQR) 0.450 109/L); all lymphocytic subgroups are dramatically reduced in critically ill patients, while CD4/CD8 ratio remains normal. Neither ferritin nor lymphocyte count follows significant trends in ICU patients. Transferrin saturation is extremely reduced at ICU admission (median 9%; IQR 7%), then significantly increases at days 3 to 6 (median 33%, IQR 26.5%, p value 0.026). The same trend is observed with serum iron levels (median 25.5 μg/L, IQR 69 μg/L at admission; median 73 μg/L, IQR 56 μg/L on days 3 to 6) without reaching statistical significance. Hyperferritinemia is constant during intensive care stay: however, its dosage might be helpful in individuating patients developing haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis. D-dimer is elevated and progressively increases from admission (median 1319 μg/L; IQR 1285 μg/L) to days 3 to 6 (median 6820 μg/L; IQR 6619 μg/L), despite not reaching significant results. We describe trends of all the abovementioned parameters during ICU stay. CONCLUSIONS: The description of iron metabolism and lymphocyte count in Covid-19 patients admitted to the intensive care unit provided with this paper might allow a wider understanding of SARS-CoV-2 pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
JournalWorld Journal of Emergency Surgery
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Coagulation, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Critical care, Ferritins, Immunity, Iron, Lymphocytes, Lymphopenia, MeSH repository (3-10), SARS-CoV-2

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