Could KL-6 levels in COVID-19 help to predict lung disease?
Background Coronavirus disease COVID-19 has become a public health emergency of international concern. Together with the quest for an effective treatment, the question of the post-infectious evolution of affected patients in healing process remains uncertain. Krebs von den Lungen 6 (KL-6) is a high molecular weight mucin-like glycoprotein produced by type II pneumocytes and bronchial epithelial cells. Its production is raised during epithelial lesions and cellular regeneration. In COVID-19
... n. In COVID-19 infection, KL-6 serum levels could therefore be of interest for diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic response evaluation. Materials and methods Our study retrospectively compared KL-6 levels between a cohort of 83 COVID-19 infected patients and two other groups: healthy subjects (n = 70) on one hand, and a heterogenous group of patients suffering from interstitial lung diseases (n = 31; composed of 16 IPF, 4 sarcoidosis, 11 others) on the other hand. Demographical, clinical and laboratory indexes were collected. Our study aims to compare KL-6 levels between a COVID-19 population and healthy subjects or patients suffering from interstitial lung diseases (ILDs). Ultimately, we ought to determine whether KL-6 could be a marker of disease severity and bad prognosis. Results Our results showed that serum KL-6 levels in COVID-19 patients were increased compared to healthy subjects, but to a lesser extent than in patients suffering from ILD. Increased levels of KL-6 in COVID-19 patients were associated with a more severe lung disease. Discussion and conclusion Our results suggest that KL-6 could be a good biomarker to assess ILD severity in COVID-19 infection. Concerning the therapeutic response prediction, more studies are necessary.