Covid-19-Associated Coagulopathy: Biomarkers of Thrombin Generation and Fibrinolysis Leading the Outcome

J Clin Med. 2020 Oct 28;9(11):E3487

Severe patterns of COVID-19 ARDS are characterized by a thrombin burst and the consequent coagulation activation. Mechanisms of fibrinolysis regulation appear unbalanced toward fibrinolysis inhibition. This pattern ameliorates in survivors, whereas it worsens in nonsurvivors.

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Background

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)-associated coagulopathy is characterized by a prothrombotic state not yet comprehensively studied. We investigated the coagulation pattern of patients with COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), comparing patients who survived to those who did not.

Methods

In this prospective cohort study on 20 COVID-19 ARDS patients, the following biomarkers were measured: thrombin generation (prothrombin fragment 1 + 2 (PF 1 + 2)), fibrinolysis activation (tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)) and inhibition (plasminogen activator inhibitor 2 (PAI-2)), fibrin synthesis (fibrinopeptide A) and fibrinolysis magnitude (plasmin–antiplasmin complex (PAP) and D-dimers). Measurements were done upon intensive care unit (ICU) admission and after 10–14 days.

Results

There was increased thrombin generation; modest or null release of t-PA; and increased levels of PAI-2, fibrinopeptide A, PAP and D-dimers. At baseline, nonsurvivors had a significantly (p = 0.014) higher PAI-2/PAP ratio than survivors (109, interquartile range (IQR) 18.1–216, vs. 8.7, IQR 2.9–12.6). At follow-up, thrombin generation was significantly (p = 0.025) reduced in survivors (PF 1 + 2 from 396 pg/mL, IQR 185–585 to 237 pg/mL, IQR 120–393), whereas it increased in nonsurvivors. Fibrinolysis inhibition at follow-up remained stable in survivors and increased in nonsurvivors, leading to a significant (p = 0.026) difference in PAI-2 levels (161 pg/mL, IQR 50–334, vs. 1088 pg/mL, IQR 177–1565).

Conclusion

Severe patterns of COVID-19 ARDS are characterized by a thrombin burst and the consequent coagulation activation. Mechanisms of fibrinolysis regulation appear unbalanced toward fibrinolysis inhibition. This pattern ameliorates in survivors, whereas it worsens in nonsurvivors.