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Molecular Medicine





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Background: Long-COVID is characterized by prolonged, diffuse symptoms months after acute COVID-19. Accurate diagnosis and targeted therapies for Long-COVID are lacking. We investigated vascular transformation biomarkers in Long-COVID patients. Methods: A case–control study utilizing Long-COVID patients, one to six months (median 98.5 days) post-infection, with multiplex immunoassay measurement of sixteen blood biomarkers of vascular transformation, including ANG-1, P-SEL, MMP-1, VE-Cad, Syn-1, Endoglin, PECAM-1, VEGF-A, ICAM-1, VLA-4, E-SEL, thrombomodulin, VEGF-R2, VEGF-R3, VCAM-1 and VEGF-D. Results: Fourteen vasculature transformation blood biomarkers were significantly elevated in Long-COVID outpatients, versus acutely ill COVID-19 inpatients and healthy controls subjects (P < 0.05). A unique two biomarker profile consisting of ANG-1/P-SEL was developed with machine learning, providing a classification accuracy for Long-COVID status of 96%. Individually, ANG-1 and P-SEL had excellent sensitivity and specificity for Long-COVID status (AUC = 1.00, P < 0.0001; validated in a secondary cohort). Specific to Long-COVID, ANG-1 levels were associated with female sex and a lack of disease interventions at follow-up (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Long-COVID patients suffer prolonged, diffuse symptoms and poorer health. Vascular transformation blood biomarkers were significantly elevated in Long-COVID, with angiogenesis markers (ANG-1/P-SEL) providing classification accuracy of 96%. Vascular transformation blood biomarkers hold potential for diagnostics, and modulators of angiogenesis may have therapeutic efficacy.