Dissemination of extreme levels of extracellular vesicles: tissue factor activity in patients with severe COVID-19

Blood Adv. 2021 Feb 9;5(3):628-634. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020003308.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become one of the biggest public health challenges of this century. Severe forms of the disease are associated with a thrombo-inflammatory state that can turn into thrombosis. Because tissue factor (TF) conveyed by extracellular vesicles (EVs) has been implicated in thrombosis, we quantified the EV-TF activity in a cohort of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 (n = 111) and evaluated its link with inflammation, disease severity, and thrombotic events. Patients with severe disease were compared with those who had moderate disease and with patients who had septic shock not related to COVID-19 (n = 218). The EV-TF activity was notably increased in patients with severe COVID-19 compared with that observed in patients with moderate COVID-19 (median, 231 [25th to 75th percentile, 39-761] vs median, 25 [25th to 75th percentile, 12-59] fM; P < .0001); EV-TF was correlated with leukocytes, D-dimer, and inflammation parameters. High EV-TF values were associated with an increased thrombotic risk in multivariable models. Compared with patients who had septic shock, those with COVID-19 were characterized by a distinct coagulopathy profile with significantly higher EV-TF and EV-fibrinolytic activities that were not counterbalanced by an increase in plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1). Thus, this article is the first to describe the dissemination of extreme levels of EV-TF in patients with severe COVID-19, which supports the international recommendations of systematic preventive anticoagulation in hospitalized patients and potential intensification of anticoagulation in patients with severe disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Area Under Curve
  • COVID-19 / complications
  • COVID-19 / pathology*
  • COVID-19 / virology
  • Extracellular Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1 / metabolism
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • ROC Curve
  • Risk
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Thromboplastin / metabolism*
  • Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Thrombosis / etiology


  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor 1
  • fibrin fragment D
  • Thromboplastin