Complement C5a and Clinical Markers as Predictors of COVID-19 Disease Severity and Mortality in a Multi-Ethnic Population

Farhan S. Cyprian*, Muhammad Suleman, Ibrahim Abdelhafez, Asmma Doudin, Ibn Mohammed Masud Danjuma, Fayaz Ahmad Mir, Aijaz Parray, Zohaib Yousaf, Mohammed Yaseen Ahmed Siddiqui, Alaaedin Abdelmajid, Mohammad Mulhim, Shaikha Al-Shokri, Mohammad Abukhattab, Ranad Shaheen, Eyad Elkord, Abdul Latif Al-khal, Abdel Naser Elzouki, Guillermina Girardi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) was declared as a pandemic by WHO in March 2020. SARS-CoV-2 causes a wide range of illness from asymptomatic to life-threatening. There is an essential need to identify biomarkers to predict disease severity and mortality during the earlier stages of the disease, aiding treatment and allocation of resources to improve survival. The aim of this study was to identify at the time of SARS-COV-2 infection patients at high risk of developing severe disease associated with low survival using blood parameters, including inflammation and coagulation mediators, vital signs, and pre-existing comorbidities. This cohort included 89 multi-ethnic COVID-19 patients recruited between July 14th and October 20th 2020 in Doha, Qatar. According to clinical severity, patients were grouped into severe (n=33), mild (n=33) and asymptomatic (n=23). Common routine tests such as complete blood count (CBC), glucose, electrolytes, liver and kidney function parameters and markers of inflammation, thrombosis and endothelial dysfunction including complement component split product C5a, Interleukin-6, ferritin and C-reactive protein were measured at the time COVID-19 infection was confirmed. Correlation tests suggest that C5a is a predictive marker of disease severity and mortality, in addition to 40 biological and physiological parameters that were found statistically significant between survivors and non-survivors. Survival analysis showed that high C5a levels, hypoalbuminemia, lymphopenia, elevated procalcitonin, neutrophilic leukocytosis, acute anemia along with increased acute kidney and hepatocellular injury markers were associated with a higher risk of death in COVID-19 patients. Altogether, we created a prognostic classification model, the CAL model (C5a, Albumin, and Lymphocyte count) to predict severity with significant accuracy. Stratification of patients using the CAL model could help in the identification of patients likely to develop severe symptoms in advance so that treatments can be targeted accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number707159
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • biomarkers
  • blood indices
  • C5a anaphylatoxin
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2


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