Authors: Pascolini S, Vannini A, Deleonardi G, Ciordinik M, Sensoli A

PMID: 32989903 PMCID: PMC7536986 DOI: 10.1111/cts.12908


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is often associated with interstitial pneumonia. However, there is insufficient knowledge on the presence of autoimmune serological markers in patients with COVID-19. We analyzed the presence and role of autoantibodies in patients with COVID-19-associated pneumonia. We prospectively studied 33 consecutive patients with COVID-19, 31 (94%) of whom had interstitial pneumonia, and 25 age-matched and sex-matched patients with fever and/or pneumonia with etiologies other than COVID-19 as the pathological control group. All patients were tested for the presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs), anti-antiphospholipid antibodies, and anti-cytoplasmic neutrophil antibodies (ANCAs). Clinical, biochemical, and radiological parameters were also collected. Fifteen of 33 patients (45%) tested positive for at least one autoantibody, including 11 who tested positive for ANAs (33%), 8 who tested positive for anti-cardiolipin antibodies (immunoglobulin (Ig)G and/or IgM; 24%), and 3 who tested positive for anti-β2-glycoprotein antibodies (IgG and/or IgM; 9%). ANCA reactivity was not detected in any patient. Patients that tested positive for auto-antibodies had a significantly more severe prognosis than other patients did: 6 of 15 patients (40%) with auto-antibodies died due to COVID-19 complications during hospitalization, whereas only 1 of 18 patients (5.5%) who did not have auto-antibodies died (P = 0.03). Patients with poor prognosis (death due to COVID-19 complications) had a significantly higher respiratory rate at admission (23 breaths per minute vs. 17 breaths per minute; P = 0.03) and a higher frequency of auto-antibodies (86% vs. 27%; P = 0.008). In conclusion, auto-antibodies are frequently detected in patients with COVID-19 possibly reflecting a pathogenetic role of immune dysregulation. However, given the small number of patients, the association of auto-antibodies with an unfavorable prognosis requires further multicenter studies.

Keywords: COVID-19, autoantibodies, Immunological Dysregulation