Plasma IP-10 and MCP-3 levels are highly associated with disease severity and predict the progression of COVID-19

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2020 Jul;146(1):119-127.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2020.04.027. Epub 2020 Apr 29.


Background: The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 was first reported in Wuhan, December 2019, and continuously poses a serious threat to public health, highlighting the urgent need of identifying biomarkers for disease severity and progression.

Objective: We sought to identify biomarkers for disease severity and progression of COVID-19.

Methods: Forty-eight cytokines in the plasma samples from 50 COVID-19 cases including 11 critically ill, 25 severe, and 14 moderate patients were measured and analyzed in combination with clinical data.

Results: Levels of 14 cytokines were found to be significantly elevated in COVID-19 cases and showed different expression profiles in patients with different disease severity. Moreover, expression levels of IFN-γ-induced protein 10, monocyte chemotactic protein-3, hepatocyte growth factor, monokine-induced gamma IFN, and macrophage inflammatory protein 1 alpha, which were shown to be highly associated with disease severity during disease progression, were remarkably higher in critically ill patients, followed by severe and then the moderate patients. Serial detection of the 5 cytokines in 16 cases showed that continuously high levels were associated with deteriorated progression of disease and fatal outcome. Furthermore, IFN-γ-induced protein 10 and monocyte chemotactic protein-3 were excellent predictors for the progression of COVID-19, and the combination of the 2 cytokines showed the biggest area under the curve of the receiver-operating characteristics calculations with a value of 0.99.

Conclusions: In this study, we report biomarkers that are highly associated with disease severity and progression of COVID-19. These findings add to our understanding of the immunopathologic mechanisms of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection, and provide potential therapeutic targets and strategies.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; biomarkers; disease progression; prediction.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • COVID-19
  • Chemokine CCL7 / blood*
  • Chemokine CXCL10 / blood*
  • Coronavirus Infections / blood*
  • Critical Illness
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / blood*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • CCL7 protein, human
  • CXCL10 protein, human
  • Chemokine CCL7
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Cytokines