Lipid peroxidation as a hallmark of severity in COVID-19 patients

Redox Biol. 2021 Nov 6;48:102181. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2021.102181. Online ahead of print.


Background: Oxidative stress may be a key player in COVID-19 pathogenesis due to its significant role in response to infections. A defective redox balance has been related to viral pathogenesis developing a massive induction of cell death provoked by oxidative stress. The aim of this study is to perform a complete oxidative stress profile evaluation regarding antioxidant enzymes, total antioxidant capacity and oxidative cell damage in order to characterize its role in diagnosis and severity of this disease.

Methods: Blood samples were obtained from 108 COVID-19 patients and 28 controls and metabolites representative of oxidative stress were assessed. The association between lipid peroxidation and 28-day intubation/death risk was evaluated by multivariable regression analysis. Probability of intubation/death to day-28 was analyzed by using Kaplan-Meier curves and tested with the log-rank test.

Results: Antioxidant enzymes (Superoxide dismutase (SOD) and Catalase) and oxidative cell damage (Carbonyl and Lipid peroxidation (LPO)) levels were significantly higher in COVID-19 patients while total antioxidant capacity (ABTS and FRAP) levels were lower in these patients. The comparison of oxidative stress molecules' levels across COVID-19 severity revealed that only LPO was statistically different between mild and intubated/death COVID-19 patients. COX multivariate regression analysis identified LPO levels over the OOP (LPO>1948.17 μM) as an independent risk factor for 28-day intubation/death in COVID-19 patients [OR: 2.57; 95% CI: 1.10-5.99; p = 0.029]. Furthermore, Kaplan-Meier curve analysis revealed that COVID-19 patients showing LPO levels above 1948.17 μM were intubated or died 8.4 days earlier on average (mean survival time 15.4 vs 23.8 days) when assessing 28-day intubation/death risk (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: These findings deepen our knowledge of oxidative stress status in SARS-CoV-2 infection, supporting its important role in COVID-19. In fact, higher lipid peroxidation levels are independently associated to a higher risk of intubation or death at 28 days in COVID-19 patients.

Keywords: COVID-19; Intubation; Lipid peroxidation; Mortality; Oxidative stress.