Indian Journal of Pathology and Microbiology
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 65  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 902-906

COVID-19: Time for a clinical classification?

Institute of Liver disease and Transplantation, Dr. Rela Institute and Medical Centre, Bharat Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Dinesh Jothimani
Institute of Liver Disease and Transplantation, Dr. Rela Institute and Medical Centre, 7, CLC Works Road, Chrompet, Chennai - 600044, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpm.ijpm_43_21

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COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus has been around for 2 years causing significant health-care catastrophes in most parts of the world. The understanding of COVID-19 continues to expand, with multiple newer developments such as the presence of asymptomatic cases, feco-oral transmission, and endothelial dysfunction. The existing classification was developed before this current understanding. With the availability of recent literature evidences, we have attempted a classification encompassing pathogenesis and clinical features for better understanding of the disease process. The pathogenesis of COVID-19 continues to evolve. The spiked protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus binds to ACE2 receptors causes direct cytopathic damage and hyperinflammatory injury. In addition to alveolar cells, ACE2 is also distributed in gastrointestinal tract and vascular endothelium. ACE2–SARS-CoV-2 interaction engulfs the receptors leading to depletion. Accumulation of Ang2 via AT1 receptor (AT1R) binding causes upregulation of macrophage activity leading to pro-inflammatory cytokine release. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been attributed to cause hyperinflammatory syndrome in COVID-19. In addition, it also causes severe widespread endothelial injury through soluble IL-6 receptors. Thrombotic complications occur following the cleavage and activation of von Willebrand factor. Based on the above understanding, clinical features, organ involvement, risk stratification, and disease severity, we have classified COVID-19 patients into asymptomatic, pulmonary, GI, and systemic COVID-19 (S-COVID-19). Studies show that the infectivity and prognosis are different and distinct amongst these groups. Systemic-COVID-19 patients are more likely to be critically ill with multi-organ dysfunction and thrombo-embolic complications.

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