Brief Research Report : Serum clara cell 16 kDa protein levels are increased in patients hospitalized for severe SARS-CoV-2 or sepsis infection
Clara cell 16 kDa protein (CC16) is a secretory protein primarily expressed in epithelial cells in the lungs. Previous studies show that CC16 exerts anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory properties in both acute and chronic pulmonary diseases. However, despite the evidence of CC16's high biomarker potential, evaluation of its role in infectious diseases is yet very limited.
Serum CC16 concentrations were measured by ELISA and assessed in two different types of severe infections. Using a case-control study design, patients treated for either severe SARS-CoV-2 or severe non-pulmonary sepsis infection were compared to age- and sex-matched healthy human subjects.
Serum CC16 was significantly increased in both types of infection (SARS-CoV-2: 96.22 ± 129.01 ng/ml vs. healthy controls: 14.05 ± 7.48 ng/ml, p = 0.022; sepsis: 35.37 ± 28.10 ng/ml vs. healthy controls: 15.25 ± 7.51 ng/ml, p = 0.032) but there were no distinct differences between infections with and without pulmonary focus (p = 0.089). Furthermore, CC16 serum levels were positively correlated to disease duration and inversely to the platelet count in severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Increased CC16 serum levels in both SARS-CoV-2 and sepsis reinforce the high potential as a biomarker for epithelial cell damage and bronchoalveolar-blood barrier leakage in pulmonary as well as non-pulmonary infectious diseases.