Background: SARS-CoV-2 is a rapidly spreading coronavirus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic, which is characterized by severe respiratory infection. Many factors have been identified as risk factors for SARS-CoV-2, with much early attention being paid to body mass index (BMI), which is a well-known cardiometabolic risk factor.
Objective: This study seeks to examine the impact of additional baseline cardiometabolic risk factors including high density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), Apolipoprotein A-I (ApoA-I), Apolipoprotein B (ApoB), triglycerides, hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and diabetes on the odds of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 in UK Biobank (UKB) study participants.
Methods: We examined the effect of BMI, lipid profiles, diabetes and alcohol intake on the odds of testing positive for SARS-Cov-2 among 9,005 UKB participants tested for SARS-CoV-2 from March 16 through July 14, 2020. Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were computed using logistic regression adjusted for age, sex and ancestry.
Results: Higher BMI, Type II diabetes and HbA1c were associated with increased SARS-CoV-2 odds (p < 0.05) while HDL-C and ApoA-I were associated with decreased odds (p < 0.001). Though the effect of BMI, Type II diabetes and HbA1c were eliminated when HDL-C was controlled, the effect of HDL-C remained significant when BMI was controlled for. LDL-C, ApoB and triglyceride levels were not found to be significantly associated with increased odds.
Conclusion: Elevated HDL-C and ApoA-I levels were associated with reduced odds of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, while higher BMI, type II diabetes and HbA1c were associated with increased odds. The effects of BMI, type II diabetes and HbA1c levels were no longer significant after controlling for HDL-C, suggesting that these effects may be mediated in part through regulation of HDL-C levels. In summary, our study suggests that baseline HDL-C level may be useful for stratifying SARS-CoV-2 infection risk and corroborates the emerging picture that HDL-C may confer protection against sepsis in general and SARS-CoV-2 in particular.