Biomarkers extracted by fully automated body composition analysis from chest CT correlate with SARS-CoV-2 outcome severity


The complex process of manual biomarker extraction from body composition analysis (BCA) has far restricted the analysis of SARS-CoV-2 outcomes to small patient cohorts and a limited number of tissue types. We investigate the association of two BCA-based biomarkers with the development of severe SARS-CoV-2 infections for 918 patients (354 female, 564 male) regarding disease severity and mortality (186 deceased). Multiple tissues, such as muscle, bone, or adipose tissue are used and acquired with a deep-learning-based, fully-automated BCA from computed tomography images of the chest. The BCA features and markers were univariately analyzed with a Shapiro–Wilk and two-sided Mann–Whitney-U test. In a multivariate approach, obtained markers were adjusted by a defined set of laboratory parameters promoted by other studies. Subsequently, the relationship between the markers and two endpoints, namely severity and mortality, was investigated with regard to statistical significance. The univariate approach showed that the muscle volume was significant for female (pseverity ≤ 0.001, pmortality ≤ 0.0001) and male patients (pseverity = 0.018, pmortality ≤ 0.0001) regarding the severity and mortality endpoints. For male patients, the intra- and intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) (p ≤ 0.0001), epicardial adipose tissue (EAT) (p ≤ 0.001) and pericardial adipose tissue (PAT) (p ≤ 0.0001) were significant regarding the severity outcome. With the mortality outcome, muscle (p ≤ 0.0001), IMAT (p ≤ 0.001), EAT (p = 0.011) and PAT (p = 0.003) remained significant. For female patients, bone (p ≤ 0.001), IMAT (p = 0.032) and PAT (p = 0.047) were significant in univariate analyses regarding the severity and bone (p = 0.005) regarding the mortality. Furthermore, the defined sarcopenia marker (p ≤ 0.0001, for female and male) was significant for both endpoints. The cardiac marker was significant for severity (pfemale = 0.014, pmale ≤ 0.0001) and for mortality (pfemale ≤ 0.0001, pmale ≤ 0.0001) endpoint for both genders. The multivariate logistic regression showed that the sarcopenia marker was significant (pseverity = 0.006, pmortality = 0.002) for both endpoints (ORseverity = 0.42, 95% CIseverity: 0.23–0.78, ORmortality = 0.34, 95% CImortality: 0.17–0.67). The cardiac marker showed significance (p = 0.018) only for the severity endpoint (OR = 1.42, 95% CI 1.06–1.90). The association between BCA-based sarcopenia and cardiac biomarkers and disease severity and mortality suggests that these biomarkers can contribute to the risk stratification of SARS-CoV-2 patients. Patients with a higher cardiac marker and a lower sarcopenia marker are at risk for a severe course or death. Whether those biomarkers hold similar importance for other pneumonia-related diseases requires further investigation.

Scientific Reports
Jens Kleesiek
Jens Kleesiek
Professor of Translational Image-guided Oncology