Cross-sectional case-control studies (Blue)
Reports indicate an increased risk of ischemic stroke during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. In this article the authors aimed to identify patients with COVID-19 and ischemic stroke and explore markers of inflammation, hypercoagulability, and endotheliopathy, a structural and functional disturbance of the vascular endothelium due to a stressor. This was a retrospective, observational cohort study comparing acute ischemic stroke patients with and without COVID-19 across 3 hospitals. Timing of stroke onset during COVID-19 course and markers of inflammation, hypercoagulability, and endothelial activation were evaluated by COVID-19 status and stroke cause. Twenty-one patients with ischemic stroke were diagnosed with COVID-19 during the study period. Patients with COVID-19 had a similar age and burden of vascular risk factors compared with the control cohort (n=168). We identified a temporal correlation between stroke onset and the peak of acute phase reactants, including CRP (C-reactive protein), ferritin, and d-dimer. In subsets of patients with labs available, embolic stroke of undetermined source was associated with elevated IL (interleukin)-6 (median, 171 [interquartile range, 13–375] versus 8 [4–11], P<0.01) and sIL (soluble IL)-2 receptor (1972 [1525–4720] versus 767 [563–1408.5], P=0.05) levels. Stroke patients with COVID-19 demonstrated elevated levels of endothelial activation markers compared with non-COVID-19 stroke controls (median von Willebrand activity 285.0% [interquartile range, 234%–382%] versus 150% [128%–183%], P=0.034; von Willebrand antigen 330.0% [265%–650%] versus 152% [130%–277%], P=0.007, and factor VIII 301% [289%–402%] versus 49% [26%–94%], P<0.001).
The authors concluded that ischemic stroke in patients with COVID-19 is associated with endotheliopathy and a systemic inflammatory response in patients with vascular risk factors. Further research evaluating endothelial and inflammatory markers in the setting of ischemic stroke and COVID-19 in larger, prospective cohorts is needed to validate the findings.
McAlpine LS, Zubair AS, Maran I, Chojecka P, Lleva P, Jasne AS, Navaratnam D, Matouk C, Schindler J, Sheth KN, Chun H, Lee AI, Spudich S, Sharma R, Sansing LH. Ischemic Stroke, Inflammation, and Endotheliopathy in COVID-19 Patients. Stroke. 2021 May 10:STROKEAHA120031971. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.031971