Introduction: The ferritin–lymphocyte ratio (FLR) is a novel inflammatory biomarker for the assessment of acute COVID-19 patients. However, the prognostic value of FLR for predicting adverse clinical outcomes in COVID-19 remains unclear, which hinders its clinical translation. Methods: We characterised the prognostic value of FLR in COVID-19 patients, as compared to established inflammatory markers. Results: In 217 study patients (69 years [IQR: 55–82]; 60% males), FLR was weakly correlated with CRP (R = 0.108, p = 0.115) and white cell count (R = −0.144; p = 0.034). On ROC analysis, an FLR cut-off of 286 achieved a sensitivity of 86% and a specificity of 30% for predicting inpatient mortality (AUC 0.60, 95% CI: 0.53–0.67). The negative predictive values of FLR for ruling out mortality, non-invasive ventilation requirement and critical illness (intubation and/or ICU admission) were 86%, 85% and 93%, respectively. FLR performed similarly to CRP (AUC 0.60 vs. 0.64; p = 0.375) for predicting mortality, but worse than CRP for predicting non-fatal outcomes (all p < 0.05). On Kaplan–Meier analysis, COVID-19 patients with FLR values > 286 had worse inpatient survival than patients with FLR ≤ 286, p = 0.041. Conclusions: FLR has prognostic value in COVID-19 patients, and appears unrelated to other inflammatory markers such as CRP and WCC. FLR exhibits high sensitivity and negative predictive values for adverse clinical outcomes in COVID-19, and may be a good “rule-out” test. Further work is needed to improve the sensitivity of FLR and validate its role in prospective studies for guiding clinical management.


Copyright: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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Liu, A., Hammond, R., Chan, K., Chukwuenweniwe, C., Johnson, R., Khair, D., Duck, E., Olubodun, O., Barwick, K., Banya, W., Stirrup, J., Donnelly, P., Kaski, J. & Coates, A. 2023, 'Characterisation of ferritin–lymphocyte ratio in COVID-19', Biomedicines, 11(10), article no: 2819. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines11102819

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Last updated: 26 October 2023
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