The level of the amino alcohol sphingosine can predict in what form a patient will suffer a coronavirus infection, scientists from the Medical University of South Carolina (USA) said. The study is published in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.
They tested almost 400 blood serum samples from healthy people and patients who had suffered from COVID-19 to varying degrees. It turned out that increased concentrations of sphingosine and the protein involved in its production, acid ceramidase (AC), are associated with asymptomatic infections. A low level of sphingosine, on the contrary, was considered a serious prerequisite for the development of signs of coronavirus diseases. In addition, the researchers found that for those who had COVID-19 with symptoms, the level of sphingosine was up to 15 times lower than in healthy people.
According to scientists, with the help of this lipid, it is possible to determine the severity of the disease with an accuracy of up to 99%. Today, such tests are considered an expensive procedure that cannot be used everywhere due to complex equipment. However, the authors of the study are confident that the development of a test based on an enzyme immunoassay-such as those needed for the primary diagnosis of HIV — could be a profitable and affordable alternative.
Among other things, the work results will help separate different groups of patients and thereby simplify the task for further research. “If we manage to separate asymptomatic patients from patients with symptoms, we will be able to direct resources and forces towards those who are more vulnerable,” the scientists concluded.