Plasminogen improves lung lesions and hypoxemia in patients with COVID-19

QJM. 2020 Aug 1;113(8):539-545. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcaa121.


Background: Lungs from patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have shown typical signs of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), formation of hyaline membrane mainly composed of fibrin and 'ground-glass' opacity. Previously, we showed plasminogen itself is a key regulator in fibrin degradation, wound healing and infection.

Aim: We aimed to investigate whether plasminogen can improve lung lesions and hypoxemia of COVID-19.

Design: Thirteen clinically moderate, severe or critical COVID-19 patients were treated with atomization inhalation of freeze-dried plasminogen.

Methods: Levels of their lung lesions, oxygen saturation and heart rates were compared before and after treatment by computed tomography scanning images and patient monitor.

Results: After plasminogen inhalation, conditions of lung lesions in five clinically moderate patients have quickly improved, shown as the decreased range and density of 'ground glass' opacity. Improvements of oxygen saturation were observed in six clinically severe patients. In the two patients with critical conditions, the oxygen levels have significantly increased from 79-82% to 91% just about 1 h after the first inhalation. In 8 of 13 patients, the heart rates had slowed down. For the five clinically moderate patients, the difference is even statistically significant. Furthermore, a general relief of chest tightness was observed.

Conclusion: Whereas it is reported that plasminogen is dramatically increased in adults with ARDS, this study suggests that additional plasminogen may be effective and efficient in treating lung lesions and hypoxemia during COVID-19 infections. Although further studies are needed, this study highlights a possible hope of efficiently combating this rapid epidemic emergency.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnostic imaging
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / drug therapy*
  • Hypoxia / virology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen Inhalation Therapy / methods
  • Pandemics
  • Plasminogen / administration & dosage
  • Plasminogen / therapeutic use*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Plasminogen
  • Oxygen