Coronavirus patients with low levels of blood protein were more likely to need ventilation

Low counts of a blood protein may predict which coronavirus patients will need ventilators or die – and boosting the anti-inflammatory compound could be a life-saving treatment

  • Renalase is secreted into the blood from the kidneys and plays a role in fighting inflammation and regulating blood pressure 
  • Coronavirus patients with low levels of the protein were more likely to need ventilators and to die 
  • After 20 days in the hospital, patients with high levels had a 100% survival probability rate and those with low levels had a 75% rate
  • Researchers say boosting levels of the compound in severely ill patients could be a life-saving treatment
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Low levels of a blood protein may predict worse health outcomes in coronavirus patients, a new study suggests.

Renalase (RNLS) is an enzyme that is secreted into the blood from the kidneys and plays a role in regulating blood pressure and fighting inflammation.

A team from Yale School of Medicine found that patients with lower levels of renalase were 68 percent more likely to experience breathing problems and need to be put on a ventilator than those with higher levels.

What’s more, people hospitalized with lower levels of the protein were also more likely to die.

Researchers say they’re asking for expedited approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate whether using the protein cold work as a treatment for severely ill patients. 

A new study found that coronavirus patients with low levels of the blood protein renalase were more likely to need ventilators and to die. Pictured: Nurses care for a coronavirus patient in the ICU at Regional Medical Center in San Jose, California, May 21

A new study found that coronavirus patients with low levels of the blood protein renalase were more likely to need ventilators and to die. Pictured: Nurses care for a coronavirus patient in the ICU at Regional Medical Center in San Jose, California, May 21

After 20 days in the hospital, patients with high levels had a 100% survival probability rate and those with low levels had a 75% rate (above)

After 20 days in the hospital, patients with high levels had a 100% survival probability rate and those with low levels had a 75% rate (above)

‘We want to investigate whether giving patients renalase protein agonists can improve outcomes,’ said senior author Dr Gary Desir, chair of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, in a statement.

For the study, published on preprint site medRxiv.org, the team analyzed levels of renalase in 51 coronavirus patients at Yale New Haven Hospital and 15 uninfected people.

Results showed that the 14 patients with the lowest levels of renalase experienced the most severe symptoms of COIVD-19, the disease caused by the virus. 

Specifically, 84 percent of coronavirus patients with low levels needed mechanical ventilations compared to 50 percent of those with high levels.  

The patients with the lowest levels were also more likely to die than those with higher levels of the blood protein. 

After 20 days in the hospital, patients with high levels had a 100 percent survival probability rate and those with low levels had a 75 percent rate.

After about 40 days, the high-level group had a 65 percent chance of surviving and the low-level group had a 30 percent chance.  

Patients with low renalase levels were also more likely to be treated with remdesivir, the drug approved for emergency use by the FDA.

However, the team notes that all patients given the medication were admitted to the ICU, suggest the drug was linked to severe disease, not protein levels.  

‘Low plasma RNLS levels are associated with severe COVID-19 disease and may be a useful additional biomarker when identifying patients with severe COVID-19 disease,’ the authors wrote.

‘Given RNLS anti-inflammatory properties and negative correlation with inflammatory markers, these findings also suggest evidence of a potential pathophysiological mechanism for severe COVID-19 disease.’

In the US, there are more than two million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 112,000 deaths. 

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