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Gamma Fibrinogen and COVID-19; Who Knew?

February 2, 2022

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Dr. David Farrell

Professor of Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University
Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Gamma Diagnostics

Introduction: COVID-19 disease progression can be accompanied by a “cytokine storm” that leads to secondary
sequelae such as thrombosis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Several inflammatory cytokines have been
associated with COVID-19 disease progression, but have far too much daily intra-individual variability to be useful
in tracking the course of the disease. In contrast, we have shown that the inflammatory biomarker γ’ fibrinogen (γ’
Fbg) has a 6-fold lower coefficient of variability compared to other inflammatory markers such as hs-CRP. The aims
of the study were to measure γ’ Fbg in serial blood samples from COVID-19 patients at a tertiary care medical
center in order to investigate its association with clinical measures of disease progression.

Hypothesis: Our hypothesis was that γ’ Fbg levels would be elevated in COVID-19 patients compared to historical
controls, and that the degree of elevation would be associated with disease severity.

Methods: COVID-19 patients at a tertiary care medical center were retrospectively enrolled between 3/16/2020
and 8/1/2020. γ’ Fbg was measured using the GammaCoeur ELISA (Gamma Diagnostics, Patent Pending).

Results: Our results showed that ten out of the eighteen patients with COVID-19 had the highest levels of γ’ Fbg
ever recorded. The previous highest γ’ Fbg level of 80.3 mg/dL was found in a study of 10,601 participants in the
ARIC study. γ’ Fbg levels were significantly associated with the need for ECMO and mortality.
Conclusions: We found that COVID-19 patients can develop extraordinarily high levels of γ’ Fbg. This has several
important clinical implications. γ’ Fbg contains a high affinity binding site for thrombin that binds to anion-binding
exosite II on thrombin and protects it from inactivation by heparin. High levels of γ’ Fbg therefore provide a
reservoir of heparin-resistant clot-bound thrombin when the γ’ Fbg is clotted. These findings have potential
clinical implications regarding prophylactic anticoagulation of COVID-19 patients and suggest that heparin
prophylaxis may be less effective than using other anticoagulants, particularly direct thrombin inhibitors.


February 2
11:00 am - 12:00 pm




Centre for Blood Research