Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a systemic disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the association between lung injury and cytokine profile in COVID-19 pneumonia.
Methods: This retrospective study was conducted in COVID-19 patients. Demographic characteristics, symptoms, signs, underlying diseases, and laboratory data were collected. The patients were divided into COVID-19 with pneumonia and without pneumonia. CT severity score and PaO2/FiO2 ratio and were used to assess lung injury.
Results: 106 patients with 12 COVID-19 without pneumonia and 94 COVID-19 with pneumonia were included. Compared with COVID-19 without pneumonia, COVID-19 with pneumonia had significant higher serum interleukin (IL)-2R, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. Correlation analysis showed that CT severity score and PaO2/FiO2 were significantly correlated with age, presence of any coexisting disorder, lymphocyte count, procalcitonin, IL-2R, and IL-6. In multivariate analysis, log IL6 was only independent explanatory variables for CT severity score (β=0.397, p<0.001) and PaO2/FiO2 (β=-0.434, p=0.003).
Conclusions: Elevation of circulating cytokines was significantly associated with presence of pneumonia in COVID-19 and the severity of lung injury in COVID-19 pneumonia. Circulating IL-6 independently predicted the severity of lung injury in COVID-19 pneumonia.