Eight months follow-up study on pulmonary function, lung radiographic, and related physiological characteristics in COVID-19 survivors

Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 5;11(1):13854. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-93191-y.


To describe the long-term health outcomes of patients with COVID-19 and investigate the potential risk factors. Clinical data during hospitalization and at a mean (SD) day of 249 (15) days after discharge from 40 survivors with confirmed COVID-19 (including 25 severe cases) were collected and analyzed retrospectively. At follow-up, severe cases had higher incidences of persistent symptoms, DLCO impairment, and higher abnormal CT score as compared with mild cases. CT score at follow-up was positively correlated with age, LDH level, cumulative days of oxygen treatment, total dosage of glucocorticoids used, and CT peak score during hospitalization. DLCO% at follow-up was negatively correlated with cumulative days of oxygen treatment during hospitalization. DLCO/VA% at follow-up was positively correlated with BMI, and TNF-α level. Among the three groups categorized as survivors with normal DLCO, abnormal DLCO but normal DLCO/VA, and abnormal DLCO and DLCO/VA, survivors with abnormal DLCO and DLCO/VA had the lowest serum IL-2R, IL-8, and TNF-α level, while the survivors with abnormal DLCO but normal DLCO/VA had the highest levels of inflammatory cytokines during hospitalization. Altogether, COVID-19 had a greater long-term impact on the lung physiology of severe cases. The long-term radiological abnormality maybe relate to old age and the severity of COVID-19. Either absent or excess of inflammation during COVID-19 course would lead to the impairment of pulmonary diffusion function.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lung / physiopathology
  • Lung / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration Disorders / physiopathology
  • Respiration Disorders / virology*
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2 / pathogenicity*
  • Survivors* / statistics & numerical data