Protein profiling gives insight into the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and reveals potential biomarkers

COVID-19 is associated with a complex disorder of pro-inflammatory and anti-viral responses, including disturbed interferon signaling. In a prospective single-center registry supported by the German Center for Infection Research, we compared serum protein expression profiles of SARS-CoV-2 positive patients and patients with similar symptoms and severity of disease but negative for SARS-CoV-2 admitted to the emergency department. We observed a specific upregulation of the immunomodulatory protein progranulin (GRN) in SARS-CoV-2 positive patientes. High GRN abundance was associated with adverse outcomes and increased expression of interleukin-6 in COVID-19. Thus, the potential of GRN as a biomarker and a possible impact of increased GRN expression on interferon signaling, virus elimination, and virus-induced lung tissue damage in COVID-19 should be further explored.

Rieder et al. J Infect Dis 2020