ARTICLE | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0193.v1
Subject: Medicine & Pharmacology, General Medical Research Keywords: liver; Neuropilin-1; Toll-like receptors; COVID-19
Online: 10 August 2022 (05:05:04 CEST)
Purpose: The study aimed to investigate if there were any links between liver function biomarkers and immunoglobulins levels in serum, and Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and neuropilin-1 (NRP1) in COVID-19 patients. The study also aimed to assess the accuracy—sensitivity, specificity, and area under the curve (AUC) by the receiver operator curve (ROC) analysis for immunoglobulins levels and TLRs expressions. Patients and Methods: This study included 150 patients (100 patients with confirmed COVID-19 and 50 healthy volunteers as a control group). Patients with COVID-19 were subdivided into two groups according to the severity of symptoms (moderate and severe, with 50 patients each). Serum C-reactive protein (CRP), alanine aminotransaminase (ALT), aspartate aminotransaminase (AST), albumin, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), immunoglobulin (Ig) G, and IgM levels were estimated. TLRs (TLR2 and TLR4) and NRP1 gene expression in blood samples were investigated using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). ROC analysis was also applied to determine the accuracy of various detected parameters in predicting the possibility of COVID-19 infection. Results: In COVID-19 patients, serum parameters related to liver function, except serum albumin, CRP, IgG, IgM, and TLR2, TLR4, and NRP1 mRNA expression levels, significantly elevated compared to controls. Severe COVID-19 patients exhibited significantly higher liver enzymes (ALT, AST and LDH), CRP, and TLR2 mRNA expression levels and lower albumin levels than the moderate group. In the moderate and severe groups, ALT, CRP, TLR2, and TLR4 had a significant positive correlation with IgM levels. ALT, AST, LDH, CRP, TLR2, and TLR4 showed a significant positive correlation with IgG levels in both groups. In both the moderate and severe groups, NRP1 expression was found to be significantly correlated with CRP, IgG, IgM, TLR2, and TLR4. In contrast, serum albumin levels exhibited a significant negative correlation with IgG and IgM levels only in the severe group, but they showed a significant negative correlation with TLR2, TLR4, and NRP1 expression in both moderate and severe groups. Serum ALT and AST activities were positively correlated with NRP1 expression in the moderate group but not in the severe group and as well as TLR2 and TLR4 expression in both the moderate and severe groups. ROC analysis indicated that AUC was higher than 0.800 for serum IgM level and TLR4 gene expression in moderate COVID-19 group. Conclusions: The increased liver function biomarkers in serum and NRP1 expression are closely correlated with sustained activations in humoral and innate immune responses during COVID-19 infection. As a result, TLR2, TLR4, and NRP1 could be targets for limiting COVID-19 infection and impairment effects on liver function. Moreover, detection of IgM level in serum and TLR4 expression in blood have a good accuracy in predicting the possibility of infection with COVID-19 in moderate cases.