Major findings of the pilot study involving 21 critically ill patients during the week after admission to the critical care unit specialized for COVID-19 are presented. Fourteen patients have recovered, while seven passed away. There were no differences between them in respect to clinical or laboratory parameters monitored. However, protein adducts of the lipid peroxidation product 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE) were higher in the plasma of the deceased patients, while total antioxidant capacity was below the detection limit for the majority of sera samples in both groups. Moreover, levels of the HNE-protein adducts were constant in the plasma of the deceased patients, while in survivors, they have shown prominent and dynamic variations, suggesting that survivors had active oxidative stress response mechanisms reacting to COVID-19 aggression, which were not efficient in patients who died. Immunohistochemistry revealed the abundant presence of HNE-protein adducts in the lungs of deceased patients indicating that HNE is associated with the lethal outcome. It seems that HNE was spreading from the blood vessels more than being a consequence of pneumonia. Due to the limitations of the relatively small number of patients involved in this study, further research on HNE and antioxidants is needed. This might allow a better understanding of COVID-19 and options for utilizing antioxidants by personalized, integrative biomedicine approach to prevent the onset of HNE-mediated vitious circle of lipid peroxidation in patients with aggressive inflammatory diseases.
Keywords: 4-hydroxynonenal (HNE); COVID-19; HNE-ELISA; SARS-CoV-2; antioxidants; blood vessels; free radicals; immunohistochemistry; inflammation; lipid peroxidation; lungs; oxidative stress; peroxides; reactive oxygen species (ROS).