Potential cause behind blood clotting in COVID-19 patients uncovered

Red blood cells clot.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers uncovered a potential mechanism that could explain the abnormal blood clotting encountered in COVID-19 patients and a biomarker that may aid the treatment of patients.

The findings, published in The Lancet Haematology, came from examining the blood of 68 patients with COVID-19, 48 of them being critically ill in the intensive care unit (ICU) and 20 receiving care in a non-ICU hospital unit. Researchers also examined the blood of 13 volunteers who did not have the disease.

They found that several markers that indicate activation of endothelial cells that line the inside of the blood vessels and blood platelets were about twice as high in the ICU group than in the non-ICU group. The non-ICU group had higher markers compared to the healthy volunteers.

One of the several biomarkers identified was thrombomodulin, a protein found on the surface of endothelial cells. Researchers found that it correlated with survival among all COVID-19 patients. This finding, researchers say, suggests that measuring thrombomodulin levels might aid in managing patients’ recovery. The study was funded by NHLBI.