Researchers have found a new way to speculate the severity in coronavirus patients by measuring the C-reactive protein (CRP).
The researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital saw a rapid rise in CRP levels during the first 48 to 72 hours of hospitalisation. This was steadier in patients whose condition was relatively stable.
C-reactive protein is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. The researchers noticed respiratory deterioration and intubation in patients who were admitted to the hospital.
For the study, researchers analysed trends of CRP on 100 patients infected with the coronavirus. Their findings were published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine.
Corresponding author Edy Yong Kim, of the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Brigham, said: “We realised that whereas a single CRP lab value from hospital admission wasn’t very practical as a predictor of who might get sicker, tracking the rate of change from Day 1 to Day 2 or 3 was a very powerful and very clinically predictive test.”
He added: “Even though all of these patients looked clinically similar upon admission, as early as 24 hours after hospitalisation, the immune systems of patients who would go on to the ICU multiple days later were already inflamed, as measured by these biomarkers.”
The results of the study also provided insight into the underlying mechanisms at play in Covid-19 infections. In particular, an increase in a cytokine called IL-6 during the first 24-48 hours was correlated to CRP levels and the progression of the disease.
Kim stated that the administration of immunomodulatory drugs after CRP level test can help control inflammation and reduce the severity of the disease “very, very early ― as early as hospital Day 1 and 2.”
“The clinical instincts of doctors and nurses about Covid-19 are not fully developed because the disease is still so new,” Kim said.
“But when we showed these results to frontline doctors and nurses at the Brigham, they felt like it matched what they intuitively saw in the spring. It’s always nice to hear that what you do in the lab reflects what goes on in the real world, too,” he added.