Effective laboratory markers for the estimation of disease severity and predicting the clinical progression of coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) is urgently needed. Laboratory tests, including blood routine, cytokine profiles and infection markers, were collected from 389 confirmed COVID-19 patients. The included patients were classified into mild (n = 168), severe (n = 169) and critical groups (n = 52). The leukocytes, neutrophils, infection biomarkers [such as C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin (PCT) and ferritin] and the concentrations of cytokines [interleukin (IL)-2R, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α] were significantly increased, while lymphocytes were significantly decreased with increased severity of illness. The amount of IL-2R was positively correlated with the other cytokines and negatively correlated with lymphocyte number. The ratio of IL-2R to lymphocytes was found to be remarkably increased in severe and critical patients. IL-2R/lymphocytes were superior compared with other markers for the identification of COVID-19 with critical illness, not only from mild but also from severe illness. Moreover, the cytokine profiles and IL-2R/lymphocytes were significantly decreased in recovered patients, but further increased in disease-deteriorated patients, which might be correlated with the outcome of COVID-19. Lymphopenia and increased levels of cytokines were closely associated with disease severity. The IL-2R/lymphocyte was a prominent biomarker for early identification of severe COVID-19 and predicting the clinical progression of the disease.
Keywords: COVID-19; IL-2R/lymphocyte ratio; SARS-CoV-2; clinical progression; cytokine.
© 2020 British Society for Immunology.