Plasma gp96 is a Novel Predictive Biomarker for Severe COVID-19

Microbiol Spectr. 2021 Nov 24;e0059721. doi: 10.1128/Spectrum.00597-21. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Early and effective identification of severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may allow us to improve the outcomes of associated severe acute respiratory illness with fever and respiratory symptoms. This study analyzed plasma concentrations of heat shock protein gp96 in nonsevere (including mild and typical) and severe (including severe and critical) patients with COVID-19 to evaluate its potential as a predictive and prognostic biomarker for disease severity. Plasma gp96 levels that were positively correlated with interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels were significantly elevated in COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital but not in non-COVID-19 patients with less severe respiratory impairment. Meanwhile, significantly higher gp96 levels were observed in severe than nonsevere patients. Moreover, the continuous decline of plasma gp96 levels predicted disease remission and recovery, whereas its persistently high levels indicated poor prognosis in COVID-19 patients during hospitalization. Finally, monocytes were identified as the major IL-6 producers under exogenous gp96 stimulation. Our results demonstrate that plasma gp96 may be a useful predictive and prognostic biomarker for disease severity and outcome of COVID-19. IMPORTANCE Early and effective identification of severe COVID-19 may allow us to improve the outcomes of associated severe acute respiratory illness with fever and respiratory symptoms. Some heat shock proteins (Hsps) are released during oxidative stress, cytotoxic injury, and viral infection and behave as danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). This study analyzed plasma concentrations of Hsp gp96 in nonsevere and severe patients with COVID-19. Significantly higher plasma gp96 levels were observed in severe than those in nonsevere patients, and its persistently high levels indicated poor prognosis in COVID-19 patients. The results demonstrate that plasma gp96 may be a useful predictive and prognostic biomarker for disease severity and outcome of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID‐19; IL-6; plasma gp96; predictive biomarker.