Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2021 Apr 10. doi: 10.1080/14737159.2021.1915773. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The world urgently requires surrogate markers to diagnose COVID-19 and predict its progression. The severity is not easily predicted via currently used biomarkers. Critical COVID-19 patients need to be screened for hyperinflammation to improve mortality but expensive cytokine measurement is not routinely conducted in most laboratories. The neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) is a novel biomarker in patients with various diseases. We evaluated the diagnostic and prognostic accuracy of the NLR in COVID-19 patients.
METHODS: We searched for relevant articles in seven databases. The quantitative analysis was conducted if at least two studies were evaluating the NLR role in COVID-19.
RESULTS: We included 8,120 individuals, including 7,482 COVID-19 patients, from 32 articles. Patients with COVID-19 had significantly higher levels of NLR compared to negative individuals. Advanced COVID-19 stages had significantly higher levels of NLR than earlier stages.
CONCLUSIONS: We found significantly higher levels of NLR in advanced stages compared to earlier stages of COVID-19 with good accuracy to diagnose and predict the disease outcome, especially mortality prediction. A close evaluation of critical SARS-CoV-2 patients and efficient early management are essential measures to decrease mortality. NLR could help in assessing the resource allocation in severe COVID-19 patients even in restricted settings.