Background: COVID-19 survivors report residual lung abnormalities after discharge from the hospital. The aim of this study was to identify biomarkers in serum and induced sputum samples from patients after hospitalization for COVID-19.

Methods: Patients admitted to hospitals in Spain with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 were recruited for this study. SARS-CoV-2-infected patients were divided into groups with mild/moderate and severe disease according to the severity of their symptoms during hospitalization. Levels of 92 biomarkers were measured in serum and induced sputum samples.

Results: A total of 108 patients (46.2% severe cases) were included in this study. The median number of days after the onset of symptoms was 104. A significant difference was observed in diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO), an indicator of lung function, whereby DLCO <80% was significantly lower in severe cases (p <0.001). Differences in inflammatory biomarkers were observed between patients with mild/moderate and severe disease. For some biomarkers, correlations in serum and induced sputum levels were detected. Independent predictors of severe disease were DLCO <80% and the serum CDCP1 value.

Conclusions: Higher levels of CDCP1 remain after hospital discharge and are associated with the severity of COVID-19. The possible prognostic implications warrant further investigation.