The prefusion spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 binds advanced glycation end product (AGE)-glycated human serum albumin (HSA) and a higher mass (hyperglycosylated/glycated) immunoglobulin (Ig) G3, as determined by matrix assisted laser desorption mass spectrometry (MALDI-ToF). We set out to investigate if the total blood plasma of patients who had recovered from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) as a result of COVID-19, contained more glycated HSA and higher mass (glycosylated/glycated) IgG3 than those with only clinically mild or asymptomatic infections. A direct serum dilution, and disulphide bond reduction, method was developed and applied to plasma samples from SARS-CoV-2 seronegative (n = 30) and seropositive (n = 31) healthcare workers (HCWs) and 38 convalescent plasma samples from patients who had been admitted with acute respiratory distress (ARDS) associated with COVID-19. Patients recovering from COVID-19 ARDS had significantly higher mass AGE-glycated HSA and higher mass IgG3 levels. This would indicate that increased levels and/or ratios of hyper-glycosylation (probably terminal sialic acid) IgG3 and AGE glycated HSA may be predisposition markers for the development of COVID-19 ARDS as a result of SARS-CoV2 infection. Furthermore, rapid direct analysis of serum/plasma samples by MALDI-ToF for such humoral immune correlates of COVID-19 presents a feasible screening technology for the most at risk; regardless of age or known health conditions.
Keywords: COVID-19; MALDI-ToF MS; glycated albumin; glycovariant/glycated IgG3; plasma.