Increased red blood cell deformation in children and adolescents after SARS-CoV-2 infection

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Severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with hyperinflammation, hypercoagulability and hypoxia. Red blood cells (RBCs) play a key role in microcirculation and hypoxemia and are therefore of special interest in COVID-19 pathophysiology. While this novel disease has claimed the lives of many older patients, it often goes unnoticed or with mild symptoms in children. This study aimed to investigate morphological and mechanical characteristics of RBCs after SARS-CoV-2 infection in children and adolescents by real-time deformability-cytometry (RT-DC), to investigate the relationship between alterations of RBCs and clinical course of COVID-19. Full blood of 121 students from secondary schools in Saxony, Germany, was analyzed. SARS-CoV-2-serostatus was acquired at the same time. Median RBC deformation was significantly increased in SARS-CoV-2-seropositive compared to seronegative children and adolescents, but no difference could be detected when the infection dated back more than 6 months. Median RBC area was the same in seropositive and seronegative adolescents. Our findings of increased median RBC deformation in SARS-CoV-2 seropositive children and adolescents until 6 months post COVID-19 could potentially serve as a progression parameter in the clinical course of the disease with an increased RBC deformation pointing towards a mild course of COVID-19.


Original languageEnglish
Article number9823
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Early online date17 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

External IDs

PubMed 37330522
WOS 001012614800035


ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • Humans, Child, Adolescent, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, Erythrocytes, Students, Disease Progression, Deformability

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