Assessment of background levels of autoantibodies as a prognostic marker for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection


  • Frank M. Sullivan Division of Population and Behavioural Sciences, St Andrews University Medical School, St Andrews - United Kingdom
  • Agnes Tello Division of Population and Behavioural Sciences, St Andrews University Medical School, St Andrews and Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit, Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh - United Kingdom
  • Petra Rauchhaus Tayside Clinical Trials Unit, University of Dundee, Dundee - United Kingdom
  • Virginia Hernandez Santiago Division of Population and Behavioural Sciences, St Andrews University Medical School, St Andrews - United Kingdom
  • Fergus Daly Division of Population and Behavioural Sciences, St Andrews University Medical School, St Andrews - United Kingdom



COVID-19, Current or ex-smokers, Lung cancer, Mortality prediction, Serum biomarkers


Background: Patients with more severe forms of SARS-CoV-2 exhibit activation of immunological cascades. Participants (current or ex-smokers with at least 20 years pack history) in a trial (Early Diagnosis of Lung Cancer, Scotland [ECLS]) of autoantibody detection to predict lung cancer risk had seven autoantibodies measured 5 years before the pandemic. This study compared the response to Covid infection in study participants who tested positive and negative to antibodies to tumour-associated antigens: p53, NY-ESO-1, CAGE, GBU4-5, HuD, MAGE A4 and SOX2.

Methods: Autoantibody data from the ECLS study was deterministically linked to the EAVE II database, a national, real-time prospective cohort using Scotland’s health data infrastructure, to describe the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection, patterns of healthcare use and outcomes. The strength of associations was explored using a network algorithm for exact contingency table significance testing by permutation.

Results: There were no significant differences discerned between SARS-CoV-2 test results and EarlyCDT-Lung test results (p = 0.734). An additional analysis of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions detected no significant differences between those who tested positive and negative. Subgroup analyses showed no difference in COVID-19 positivity or death rates amongst those diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) with positive and negative EarlyCDT results.

Conclusions: This hypothesis-generating study demonstrated no clinically valuable or statistically significant associations between EarlyCDT positivity in 2013-15 and the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 positivity in 2020, ICU admission or death in all participants (current or ex-smokers with at least 20 years pack history) or in those with COPD or lung cancer.


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How to Cite

Sullivan FM, Tello A, Rauchhaus P, Hernandez Santiago V, Daly F. Assessment of background levels of autoantibodies as a prognostic marker for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection. J Circ Biomark [Internet]. 2022 May 3 [cited 2023 Sep. 23];11(1):24-7. Available from:



Original research article
Received 2021-09-07
Accepted 2022-04-20
Published 2022-05-03