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.
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