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Vol. 57. Issue 12.
Pages 757-763 (December 2021)
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Vol. 57. Issue 12.
Pages 757-763 (December 2021)
Original Article
Absence of relevant clinical effects of SARS-COV-2 on the affinity of hemoglobin for O2 in patients with COVID-19
Ausencia de efectos clínicos destacables del SARS-CoV-2 sobre la afinidad de la hemoglobina por el O2 en pacientes con COVID-19
Sergi Pascual-Guàrdiaa, Antoni Ferrera, Óscar Díazb, Antonio O. Caguanaa, Elvira Tejedorb, Salomé Bellido-Calducha, Diego A. Rodríguez-Chiaradiaa, Joaquim Geaa,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
a Servicio de Neumología, Hospital del Mar-IMIM, DCEXS, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, CIBERES, ISCIII, BRN, Barcelona, Spain
b Laboratorio de Referencia de Cataluña, El Prat de Llobregat, Spain
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Tables (3)
Table 1. General and clinical data of Covid-19 patients included in the study.
Table 2. Arterial and venous blood gases in the different patient groups.
Table 3. Comparison between hemoglobin saturation measured by oximetry and calculated with the different prediction equations.
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Additional material (1)

Pulmonary involvement in COVID-19 is frequently associated with alterations in oxygenation. The arterial partial pressure of oxygen (PaO2) is the most clinically used variable to assess such oxygenation, since it decisively influences the oxygen transported by hemoglobin (expressed by its percentage of saturation, SaO2). However, two recent studies conducted respectively in silico and using omic techniques in red blood cells of COVID-19 patients have suggested that SARS-CoV-2 could decrease the affinity of oxygen for the hemoglobin (which would imply that PaO2 would overestimate SaO2), and also reduce the amount of this carrier molecule.


To evaluate this hypothesis in blood samples from COVID-19 patients.


Blood gases of all COVID-19 patients performed in our laboratory in two months were included, as well as those from two control groups: synchronous patients with negative PCR for SARS-CoV-2 (SCG) and a historical group (HCG). Both SaO2 and venous saturations (SvO2) measured by cooximetry (COX) were compared separately with those calculated using the Kelman (K), Severinghaus (SV) and Siggaard-Andersen (SA) equations in each group.


Measured and calculated SaO2 and SvO2 were practically equivalent in all groups. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for SaO2 in COVID-19 were 0.993 for COX-K and 0.992 for both COX-SV and COX-SA; being 0.995 for SvO2 for either COX-K, COX-SV or COX-SA. Hemoglobin and ferritin were slightly higher in COVID-19 compared to SCG and HCG (hemoglobin, p < 0.001 for both; ferritin, p < 0.05 for SCG and p < 0.001 for HCG).


Under clinical conditions SARS-CoV-2 does not have an appreciable influence on the affinity of oxygen for the hemoglobin, nor on the levels of this carrier molecule. Therefore, PaO2 is a good marker of blood oxygenation also in COVID-19.


La afectación pulmonar por COVID-19 se asocia frecuentemente con alteraciones en la oxigenación. La presión parcial arterial de oxígeno (PaO2) es la variable más utilizada clínicamente para valorar dicha oxigenación, ya que influye decisivamente en el oxígeno transportado por la hemoglobina (expresado por porcentaje de saturación, SaO2). Sin embargo, dos estudios recientes realizados respectivamente in silico y mediante técnicas ómicas en hematíes de pacientes han sugerido que SARS-CoV-2 podría disminuir la afinidad del oxígeno por la hemoglobina (lo que implicaría que la PaO2 sobrevaloraría la SaO2 real), e incluso reduciría la cantidad de esta molécula transportadora.


Evaluar dicha hipótesis en muestras gasométricas de pacientes con COVID-19.


Se incluyeron las gasometrías de todos los pacientes con COVID-19 realizadas en nuestro laboratorio, así como las de dos grupos control: pacientes sincrónicos con PCR negativa (GCS) y grupo histórico (GCH). Se compararon por separado las SaO2 y saturaciones venosas (SvO2), medidas por cooximetría (COX) con las calculadas mediante las ecuaciones de Kelman (K), Severinghaus (SV) y Siggaard-Andersen (SA) en cada grupo.


Las cifras de SaO2 y SvO2 medidas y calculadas fueron prácticamente superponibles en todos los grupos. Así, los coeficientes de correlación intraclase (CCI) en COVID-19 para SaO2 fueron 0,993 en COX-K y 0,992 en COX-SV y COX-SA; siendo 0,995 para SvO2 tanto en COX-K como en COX-SV y COX-SA. La hemoglobina y la ferritina resultaron algo superiores en el grupo COVID-19 respecto de GCS y GCH (hemoglobina, p < 0,001 en ambos; ferritina, p < 0,05 para GCS y p < 0,001 para GCH).


En condiciones clínicas, el SARS-CoV-2 no influye de forma apreciable en la afinidad del oxígeno por la hemoglobina, ni tampoco en los niveles de esta última. Por tanto, la PaO2 es un buen marcador de oxigenación sanguínea también en COVID-19.

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