Skip to main content

Biomarkers and the management of COVID-19 patients

The global COVID-19 pandemic has challenged health systems worldwide, with about 5% of patients requiring admission to intensive care units (ICU). Among the main complications that include respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, an emerging body of evidence shows that endothelial dysfunction plays a central role in the pathophysiology of severe COVID-19. Read more on the importance of novel and established biomarker assays in the management of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Adrenomedullin and endothelial dysfunction

Two recent studies show that endotheliitis, inflammation-induced damage of vascular endothelial cells, is a hallmark of COVID-19 (Varga et al., Ackermann et al.). The resulting endothelial dysfunction plays a central role in the disease progression in severely ill COVID-19 patients. A recent publication using whole blood gene expression analysis revealed that elevated expression of adrenomedullin (ADM) is associated with higher case severity (Hupf et al.).

However, performing gene expression analysis in acute care medicine is often challenging. Knowing about the relevance of bio-ADM as an endothelial function marker in other critical care settings, evaluations of bio-ADM in severe COVID-19 are currently on-going.

bio-ADM is a biomarker validated in more than 35,000 patients, e.g. sepsis, where it was demonstrated that high bio-ADM levels independently from inflammation and comorbidities indicate distortions in the endothelial barrier function, the inner cell sheet of blood vessels. Loss of this barrier function is considered a key driver in the development of hypotension and subsequent septic shock with loss of organ perfusion in sepsis patients (Mebazaa et al.).

Learn More

Changes within D-Dimer level helps the assessment of severity of COVID-19 patients

D-Dimer is commonly elevated in patients with COVID-19. D-Dimer levels have been associated with disease severity and could indicate poor outcomes in patients admitted for COVID-19 (5). According to additional data (6), D-Dimer concentrations allow to rapidly identify COVID-19 patients with a high risk of pulmonary complications and venous thromboembolism. 

Procalcitonin as a valuable tool in identifying COVID-19 patients

Procalcitonin (PCT) is an established biomarker for the diagnosis of sepsis, a condition identified as being a frequent complication in severe COVID-19 patients as a result of bacterial superinfection (6). Additional evidence points out that "serial procalcitonin measurement may play a role for predicting evolution towards a more severe form of disease”, which was defined as needing admission to intensive care unit or use of mechanical ventilation (7). 

Reference Literature

(1) Varga et al (2020): Endothelial cell infection and endothelitis in COVID-19, DOI:
View the paper

(2) Hupf et al (2020): RNA-expression of adrenomedullin is increased in patients with severe COVID-19, Critical Care, DOI: 10.1186/s13054-020-03246-1
View the paper

(3) Mebazaa et al (2018): Circulating adrenomedullin estimates survival and reversibility of organ failure in sepsis: the prospective observational multinational Adrenomedullin and Outcome in Sepsis and Septic Shock-1 (AdrenOSS-1) study, Crit Care, doi: 10.1186/s13054-018-2243-2
View the paper

(4) Yao et al (2020), D-dimer as a biomarker for disease severity and mortality in COVID-19 patients: a case control study, Journal of Intensive Care, DOI:
View the paper

(5) Zhou et al (2020), Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study, The Lancet, DOI:
View the paper

(6) Lippi et al (2020), Procalcitonin in patients with severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): A meta-analysis, Clinica Chimica Acta, DOI: 10.1016/j.cca.2020.03.004
View the paper