Circulating Endothelial Cells as a Marker of Endothelial Injury in Severe COVID -19

J Infect Dis. 2020 Nov 9;222(11):1789-1793. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa528.


Beside the commonly described pulmonary expression of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), major vascular events have been reported. The objective of this study was to investigate whether increased levels of circulating endothelial cells (CECs) might be associated with severe forms of COVID-19. Ninety-nine patients with COVID-19 were enrolled in this retrospective study. Patients in the intensive care units (ICU) had significantly higher CEC counts than non-ICU patients and the extent of endothelial injury was correlated with putative markers of disease severity and inflammatory cytokines. Together, these data provide in vivo evidence that endothelial injury is a key feature of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; circulating endothelial cells; endothelial injury.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • COVID-19 / blood
  • COVID-19 / pathology*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification


  • Biomarkers