Monocyte Distribution Width (MDW), a new cytometric parameter correlating with cytomorphologic changes occurring upon massive monocyte activation, has recently emerged as promising early biomarker of sepsis. Similar to sepsis, monocyte/macrophage subsets are considered key mediators of the life-threatening hyper-inflammatory disorder characterizing severe COVID-19.
In this study, we longitudinally analyzed MDW values in a cohort of 87 COVID-19 patients consecutively admitted to our hospital, showing significant correlations between MDW and common inflammatory markers, namely CRP (p<0.001), fibrinogen (p<0.001) and ferritin (p<0.01). Moreover, high MDW values resulted to be prognostically associated with fatal outcome in COVID-19 patients (AUC=0.76, 95% CI: 0.66-0.87, sensitivity 0.75, specificity 0.70, MDW threshold 26.4; RR=4.91, 95% CI: 1.73-13.96; OR=7.14, 95% CI: 2.06-24.71).
This pilot study shows that MDW can be useful in the monitoring of COVID-19 patients, as this innovative hematologic biomarker is: (i) easy to obtain, (ii) directly related to the activation state of a fundamental inflammatory cell subset (i.e. monocytes, pivotal in both cytokine storm and sepsis immunopathogenesis), (iii) well correlated with clinical severity of COVID-19-associated inflammatory disorder, and, in turn, (iv) endowed with relevant prognostic significance. Additional studies are needed to define further the clinical impact of MDW testing in the management of COVID-19 patients.