Serum Prealbumin Concentrations, COVID-19 Severity, and Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Angelo Zinellu, Arduino A. Mangoni

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27 Citations (Scopus)
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Excessive inflammation and malnutrition are associated with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity and mortality. Combined biomarkers of malnutrition and inflammation, such as serum prealbumin, might be particularly attractive for early risk stratification. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting serum prealbumin in patients with COVID-19. We searched PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus, between January and November 2020, for studies reporting data on serum prealbumin, COVID-19 severity, defined as severe illness, prolonged viral load, receiving mechanical ventilation or admitted to intensive care unit (ICU), and mortality. Nineteen studies in 4,616 COVID-19 patients were included in the meta-analysis. Pooled results showed that serum prealbumin concentrations were significantly lower in patients with severe disease and non-survivors (standard mean difference, SMD, −0.92, 95% CI, −1.10 to −0.74, P < 0.001). Extreme heterogeneity was observed (I2 = 77.9%; P < 0.001). In sensitivity analysis, the effect size was not significantly affected when each study was in turn removed (range between −0.86 and −0.95). The Begg's (P = 0.06) and Egger's t-tests (P = 0.26) did not show publication bias. Pooled SMD values were significantly and negatively associated with age (t = −2.18, P = 0.045) and C-reactive protein (t = −3.85, P = 0.002). In our meta-analysis, lower serum prealbumin concentrations were significantly associated with COVID-19 severity and mortality. This combined marker of malnutrition and inflammation might assist with early risk stratification and management in this group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number638529
Number of pages9
JournalFrontiers in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2021


  • biomarker
  • COVID-19
  • disease severity
  • mortality
  • prealbumin


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