The pathophysiology of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and especially of its complications is still not fully understood. In fact, a very high number of patients with COVID-19 die because of thromboembolic causes. A role of plasminogen, as precursor of fibrinolysis, has been hypothesized. In this study, we aimed to investigate the association between plasminogen levels and COVID-19-related outcomes in a population of 55 infected Caucasian patients (mean age: 69.8 ± 14.3, 41.8% female). Low levels of plasminogen were significantly associated with inflammatory markers (CRP, PCT, and IL-6), markers of coagulation (D-dimer, INR, and APTT), and markers of organ dysfunctions (high fasting blood glucose and decrease in the glomerular filtration rate). A multidimensional analysis model, including the correlation of the expression of coagulation with inflammatory parameters, indicated that plasminogen tended to cluster together with IL-6, hence suggesting a common pathway of activation during disease’s complication. Moreover, low levels of plasminogen strongly correlated with mortality in COVID-19 patients even after multiple adjustments for presence of confounding. These data suggest that plasminogen may play a pivotal role in controlling the complex mechanisms beyond the COVID-19 complications, and may be useful both as biomarker for prognosis and for therapeutic target against this extremely aggressive infection.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research