Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(16):2468-2476. doi:10.7150/ijms.48396

Research Paper

Association of procalcitonin levels with the progression and prognosis of hospitalized patients with COVID-19

Ze-Ming Liu1*, Jin-Peng Li2*, Shi-Pei Wang1*, Dan-Yang Chen1*, Wen Zeng3*, Si-Chao Chen1, Yi-Hui Huang1, Jiang-Long Huang1, Wei Long1, Man Li1, Rong-Fen Gao4✉, Liang Guo1✉, Xiao-Hui Wu5✉

1. Department of Plastic Surgery, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
2. Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
3. Department of Ophthalmology, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
4. Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
5. Department of Neurosurgery, Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan, 430071, China.
*These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Citation:
Liu ZM, Li JP, Wang SP, Chen DY, Zeng W, Chen SC, Huang YH, Huang JL, Long W, Li M, Gao RF, Guo L, Wu XH. Association of procalcitonin levels with the progression and prognosis of hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(16):2468-2476. doi:10.7150/ijms.48396. Available from http://www.medsci.org/v17p2468.htm

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Abstract

Rationale: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was first announced in Wuhan, and has rapidly evolved into a pandemic. However, the risk factors associated with the severity and mortality of COVID-19 are yet to be described in detail.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the information of 1525 cases from the Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses were generated to explore the relationship between procalcitonin (PCT) level and the progression and prognosis of COVID-19. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to explore the relationship between disease severity in hospitalized patients and their PCT levels. Survival curves and the cumulative hazard function for COVID-19 progression were conducted in the two groups. To further detect the relationship between the computed tomography score and survival days, curve-fitting analyses were performed.

Results: Patients in the elevated PCT group had a higher incidence of severe and critical severity conditions (P < 0.001), death, and higher computed tomography (CT) scores. There was an association between elevated PCT levels and mortality in the univariate ((hazard ratio [1], 3.377; 95% confidence interval [2], 1.012-10.344; P = 0.033) and multivariate Cox regression analysis (HR, 4.933; 95% CI, 1.170-20.788; P = 0.030). Similarly, patients with elevated PCT were more likely to have critically severe disease conditions in the univariate (odds ratio [2], 7.247; 95% CI, 3.559-14.757; P < 0.001) and multivariate logistic regression analysis (OR, 10.679; 95% CI, 4.562-25.000; P < 0.001). Kaplan-Meier curves showed poorer prognosis for patients with elevated PCT (P = 0.024). The CT score 1 for patients with elevated PCT peaked at day 40 following the onset of symptoms then decreased gradually, while their total CT score was relatively stable.

Conclusion: PCT level was shown as an independent risk factor of in-hospital mortality among COVID-19 patients. Compared with inpatients with normal PCT levels, inpatients with elevated PCT levels had a higher risk for overall mortality and critically severe disease. These findings may provide guidance for improving the prognosis of patients with critically severe COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19, risk factor, procalcitonin, prognosis, disease progression