Patients with severe COVID-19 do not have elevated autoantibodies against common diagnostic autoantigens
Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
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Infection by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative pathogen of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) presents occasionally with an aberrant autoinflammatory response, including the presence of elevated circulating autoantibodies in some individuals. Whether the development of autoantibodies against self-antigens affects COVID-19 outcomes remains unclear. To better understand the prognostic role of autoantibodies in COVID-19, we quantified autoantibodies against 23 markers that are used for diagnosis of autoimmune disease. To this end, we used serum samples from patients with severe [intensive care unit (ICU)] and moderate (ward) COVID-19, across two to six consecutive time points, and compared autoantibody levels to uninfected healthy and ICU controls. Acute and post-acute serum (from 1 to 26 ICU days) was collected from 18 ICU COVID-19-positive patients at three to six time points; 18 ICU COVID-19-negative patients (sampled on ICU day 1 and 3); 21 ward COVID-19-positive patients (sampled on hospital day 1 and 3); and from 59 healthy uninfected controls deriving from two cohorts. Levels of IgG autoantibodies against 23 autoantigens, commonly used for autoimmune disease diagnosis, were measured in serum samples using MSD® U-PLEX electrochemiluminescence technology (MSD division Meso Scale Discovery®), and results were compared between groups. There were no significant elevations of autoantibodies for any of the markers tested in patients with severe COVID-19. Sample collections at longer time points should be considered in future studies, for assessing the possible development of autoantibody responses following infection with SARS-CoV-2.