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Proteomic blood profiling in mild, severe and critical COVID-19 patients

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Hamel Patel, Nicholas Ashton, Richard Dobson, Lars-Magnus Andersson, Aylin Yilmaz, Kaj Blennow, Magnus Gisslen, Henrik Zetterberg

Original languageEnglish
Article number6357
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
PublishedDec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This study presents independent research supported by the NIHR BioResource Centre Maudsley at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) & Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN), King’s College London. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, NIHR, Department of Health or King’s College London. The authors acknowledge use of the research computing facility at King’s College London, Rosalind (, which is delivered in partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres at South London & Maudsley and Guy’s & St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trusts, and part-funded by capital equipment grants from the Maudsley Charity (award 980) and Guy’s & St. Thomas’ Charity (TR130505). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, King’s College London, or the Department of Health and Social Care. NJA is supported by the Wallenberg Centre for Molecular and Translational Medicine, the Swedish Alzheimer Foundation (Alzheimerfonden), the Swedish Dementia Foundation (Demensförbundet), Hjärnfonden, Sweden and the Anna Lisa and Brother Björnsson’s Foundation. RJBD is supported by 1. Health Data Research UK, which is funded by the UK Medical Research Council, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council, Department of Health and Social Care (England), Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Public Health Agency (Northern Ireland), British Heart Foundation and Wellcome Trust. 2. The National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre. KB is supported by the Swedish Research Council (#2017-00915), the Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), USA (#RDAPB-201809-2016615), the Swedish Alzheimer Foundation (#AF-742881), Hjärnfonden, Sweden (#FO2017-0243), the Swedish state under the agreement between the Swedish government and the County Councils, the ALF-agreement (#ALFGBG-715986), and European Union Joint Program for Neurodegenerative Disorders (JPND2019-466-236). MG is supported by The Swedish State Support for Clinical Research (ALFGBG-717531) and by SciLifeLab/KAW national COVID-19 research program project grant (V-2020-0250). HZ is a Wallenberg Scholar supported by grants from the Swedish Research Council (#2018-02532), the European Research Council (#681712), Swedish State Support for Clinical Research (#ALFGBG-720931), the Alzheimer Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), USA (#201809-2016862), and the UK Dementia Research Institute at UCL. Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s). Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic manifests itself as a mild respiratory tract infection in most individuals, leading to COVID-19 disease. However, in some infected individuals, this can progress to severe pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), leading to multi-organ failure and death. This study explores the proteomic differences between mild, severe, and critical COVID-19 positive patients to further understand the disease progression, identify proteins associated with disease severity, and identify potential therapeutic targets. Blood protein profiling was performed on 59 COVID-19 mild (n = 26), severe (n = 9) or critical (n = 24) cases and 28 controls using the OLINK inflammation, autoimmune, cardiovascular and neurology panels. Differential expression analysis was performed within and between disease groups to generate nine different analyses. From the 368 proteins measured per individual, more than 75% were observed to be significantly perturbed in COVID-19 cases. Six proteins (IL6, CKAP4, Gal-9, IL-1ra, LILRB4 and PD-L1) were identified to be associated with disease severity. The results have been made readily available through an interactive web-based application for instant data exploration and visualization, and can be accessed at Our results demonstrate that dynamic changes in blood proteins associated with disease severity can potentially be used as early biomarkers to monitor disease severity in COVID-19 and serve as potential therapeutic targets.

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