Anisocytosis is Associated With Short-Term Mortality in COVID-19 and May Reflect Proinflammatory Signature in Uninfected Ambulatory Adults

Andrew Hornick, Nour Tashtish, Michael Osnard, Binita Shah, Allison Bradigan, Zainab Albar, Jeffrey Tomalka, Jarrod Dalton, Ashish Sharma, Rafick P. Sekaly, Rana Hejal, Daniel I. Simon, David A. Zidar, Sadeer G. Al-Kindi

Abstract


Background

Red cell distribution width (RDW), a measure of anisocytosis, is observed in chronic inflammation and is a prognostic marker in critically ill patients without COVID-19, but data in COVID-19 are limited.

Methods

Between March 12 and April 19, 2020, 282 individuals with confirmed COVID-19 and RDW available within 7 days prior to COVID-19 confirmation were evaluated. Individuals were grouped by quartiles of RDW. Association between quartiles of RDW and mortality was assessed using the Kaplan-Meier method and statistical significance was assessed using the log-rank test. The association between RDW and all-cause mortality was further assessed using a Cox proportional hazards model. Plasma cytokine levels in uninfected ambulatory adults without cardiovascular disease (n=38) were measured and bivariate Spearman correlations and principle components analysis were used to identify relationships between cytokine concentrations with RDW.

Results

After adjusting for age, sex, race, cardiovascular disease, and hemoglobin, there was an association between RDW and mortality (Quartile 4 vs Quartile 1: HR 4.04 [1.08-15.07]), with each 1% increment in RDW associated with a 39% increased rate of mortality (HR 1.39 [1.21-1.59]). Remote RDW was also associated with mortality after COVID-19 infection. Among uninfected ambulatory adults without cardiovascular disease, RDW was associated with elevated pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL8, IL6, IL1b), but not regulatory cytokines (TGFb).

Conclusions

Anisocytosis predicts short-term mortality in COVID-19 patients, often predates viral exposure, and may be related to a pro-inflammatory phenotype. Additional study of whether the RDW can assist in the early identification of pending cytokine storm is warranted.


Keywords


Covid-19; Anisocytosis; RDW; Erythrocyte Indices; Prognosis; Critical Illness; Cytokines

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References


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