Higher levels of plasma mitochondrial DNA were linked to worse outcomes in hospitalized patients and may help predict COVID-19 severity at an early stage.
“Mitochondrial DNA is an inflammatory mediator that is released during end-organ damage,” said Marlene Cano, MD,PhD, who presented these findings at the 2023 American Thoracic Society International Conference, held from May 19-24, in Washington, DC. In a prospective study that included 78 patients, researchers assessed whether mitochondrial DNA could predict COVID-19 severity in a relatively early stage of the disease. Mitochondrial DNA measures were performed on days 3, 7, 14, 21, and 84 after admission to the hospital. Mortality was the primary outcome of the study.
Mitochondrial DNA significantly predicted mortality in this group of patients with COVID-19 (area under the curve, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.58-0.88; P=0.0041). Similarly, mitochondrial DNA was a significant predictor of COVID-19 severity: higher plasma levels of mitochondrial DNA were associated with an increased risk for admission to the ICU, intubation, use of vasopressors, and need for support with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Finally, Dr. Cano added that tocilizumab was the only assessed therapy that appeared to reduce mitochondrial DNA levels in this population.
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