Predicting the severity of COVID-19 patients using the CD24-CSF1R index in whole blood samples

Heliyon. 2023 Mar;9(3):e13945. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e13945. Epub 2023 Feb 23.


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by SARS-CoV-2, has become one of the most serious public health crises worldwide. Most infected people are asymptomatic but are still able to spread the virus. People with mild or moderate illnesses are likely to recover without hospitalization, while critically ill patients face a higher risk of organ injury or even death. In this study, we aimed to identify a novel biomarker that can predict the severity of COVID-19 patients. Clinical information and RNA-seq data of leukocytes from whole blood samples with and without a COVID-19 diagnosis (n = 100 and 26, respectively) were retrieved from the National Center for Biotechnology Information Gene Expression Omnibus database. Raw data were processed using the Transcripts Per Million (TPM) method and then transformed using log2 (TPM+1) for normalization. The CD24-CSF1R index was established. Violin plots, Kaplan-Meier curves, ROC curves, and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analyses were performed to evaluate the prognostic value of the established index. The CD24-CSF1R index was significantly associated with ICU admission (n = 50 ICU, 50 non-ICU) and ventilatory status (n = 42 ventilation, 58 non-ventilation) with p = 4.186e-11 and p = 1.278e-07, respectively. The ROC curve produced a relatively accurate prediction of ICU admission with an AUC of 0.8524. Additionally, patients with a high index had significantly fewer mechanical ventilation-free days than patients with a low index (p = 6.07e-07). Furthermore, the established index showed a strong prognostic ability for the risk of using a ventilator in the multivariate Cox regression model (p < 0.001). The CD24-CSF1R index was significantly associated with COVID-19 severity. The established index could have potential implications for prognosis, disease severity stratification, and clinical management.

Keywords: Biomarker; CD24-CSF1R index; COVID-19; Immunity; SARS-CoV-2.