Effect of a Functional Phospholipid Metabolome-Protein Association Pathway on the Mechanism of COVID-19 Disease Progression

Int J Biol Sci. 2022 Jul 11;18(12):4618-4628. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.72450. eCollection 2022.


This study aimed to explore the clinical practice of phospholipid metabolic pathways in COVID-19. In this study, 48 COVID-19 patients and 17 healthy controls were included. Patients were divided into mild (n=40) and severe (n=8) according to their severity. Phospholipid metabolites, TCA circulating metabolites, eicosanoid metabolites, and closely associated enzymes and transfer proteins were detected in the plasma of all individuals using metabolomics and proteomics assays, respectively. 30 of the 33 metabolites found differed significantly (P<0.05) between patients and healthy controls (P<0.05), with D-dimmer significantly correlated with all of the lysophospholipid metabolites (LysoPE, LysoPC, LysoPI and LPA). In particular, we found that phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) could identify patients from healthy controls (AUC 0.771 and 0.745, respectively) and that the severity of the patients could be determined (AUC 0.663 and 0.809, respectively). The last measurement before discharge also revealed significant changes in both PI and PC. For the first time, our study explores the significance of the phospholipid metabolic system in COVID-19 patients. Based on molecular pathway mechanisms, three important phospholipid pathways related to Ceramide-Malate acid (Cer-SM), Lysophospholipid (LPs), and membrane function were established. Clinical values discovered included the role of Cer in maintaining the inflammatory internal environment, the modulation of procoagulant LPA by upstream fibrinolytic metabolites, and the role of PI and PC in predicting disease aggravation.

Keywords: COVID-19; eicosanoic acids; metabolomics; phospholipid metabolic pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids
  • Metabolome
  • Metabolomics


  • Lysophospholipids