Zhang J, et al. Respir Res 2020.
BACKGROUND: In December 2019, the outbreak of a disease subsequently termed COVID-19 occurred in Wuhan, China. The number of cases increased rapidly and spread to six continents. However, there is limited information on the chest computed tomography (CT) results of affected patients. Chest CT can assess the severity of COVID-19 and has sufficient sensitivity to assess changes in response to glucocorticoid therapy.
OBJECTIVE: Analyze COVID-19 patients to determine the relationships of clinical characteristics, chest CT score, and levels of inflammatory mediators.
METHODS: This retrospective, single-center case series of 108 consecutive hospitalized patients with confirmed COVID-19 at Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College of HUST (Wuhan, China) examined patients admitted from January 28 to February 20, 2020. Patient demographics, comorbidities, clinical findings, chest CT results, and CT scores of affected lung parenchyma were recorded. The relationships between chest CT score with levels of systemic inflammatory mediators were determined.
RESULTS: All patients exhibited signs of significant systemic inflammation, including increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), procalcitonin, chest CT score, and a decreased lymphocyte (LY) count. Chest CT score had positive associations with white blood cell (WBC) count, CRP, ESR, procalcitonin, and abnormal coagulation function, and a negative association with LY count. Treatment with a glucocorticoid increased the LY count, reduced the CT score and CRP level, and improved coagulation function.
CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 infection is characterized by a systemic inflammatory response that affects the lungs, blood, digestive system, and circulatory systems. The chest CT score is a good indicator of the extent of systemic inflammation. Glucocorticoid treatment appears to reduce systemic inflammation in these patients.