In-depth blood proteome profiling analysis revealed distinct functional characteristics of plasma proteins between severe and non-severe COVID-19 patients

Sci Rep. 2020 Dec 29;10(1):22418. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80120-8.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has infected over forty million patients worldwide. Although most coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients have a good prognosis, some develop severe illness. Markers that define disease severity or predict clinical outcome need to be urgently developed as the mortality rate in critical cases is approximately 61.5%. In the present study, we performed in-depth proteome profiling of undepleted plasma from eight COVID-19 patients. Quantitative proteomic analysis using the BoxCar method revealed that 91 out of 1222 quantified proteins were differentially expressed depending on the severity of COVID-19. Importantly, we found 76 proteins, previously not reported, which could be novel prognostic biomarker candidates. Our plasma proteome signatures captured the host response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, thereby highlighting the role of neutrophil activation, complement activation, platelet function, and T cell suppression as well as proinflammatory factors upstream and downstream of interleukin-6, interleukin-1B, and tumor necrosis factor. Consequently, this study supports the development of blood biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets to aid clinical decision-making and subsequently improve prognosis of COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Proteins / analysis*
  • COVID-19 / blood*
  • COVID-19 / mortality
  • COVID-19 / pathology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Complement Activation / immunology
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophil Activation / immunology
  • Platelet Activation / immunology
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Suppressor Factors, Immunologic / blood
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Proteins
  • Cytokines
  • Proteome
  • Suppressor Factors, Immunologic