Corticosteroid administration for viral pneumonia: COVID-19 and beyond

Link to article at PubMed

Yang JW, et al. Clin Microbiol Infect 2020 - Review.


BACKGROUND: Corticosteroids are commonly used as adjuvant therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) by many clinicians due to their perceived anti-inflammatory effects. However, for patients with severe viral pneumonia, the corticosteroid treatment is highly controversial.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this review is to systematically evaluate the effect and potential mechanism of corticosteroid administration in pandemic viral pneumonia.

SOURCES: We comprehensively searched all manuscripts on corticosteroids therapy for influenza, SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2 viral pneumonia from the PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science and Cochrane Library databases.

CONTENT: We systematic summarized the effects of corticosteroids therapy for pandemic viral pneumonia and the potential mechanism of corticosteroid worked in COVID-19.

IMPLICATIONS: Observational studies showed that corticosteroid treatment was associated with increased mortality and nosocomial infections for influenza and delay virus clearance for SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV. Limited data on corticosteroid therapy for COVID-19 were reported. Corticosteroids were used in about a fifth of patients (670/2995, 22.4%). Although clinical observational studies reported the improvement in symptoms and oxygenation for the severe COVID-19 patients received corticosteroids therapy, case fatality rate in the corticosteroid group was significantly higher than that in the non-corticosteroid group (69/443, 15.6% vs 56/1310, 4.3%). Compared with non-severe patients, severe patients were more likely to receive corticosteroid therapy (201/382, 52.6% vs 201/1310, 15.3%). Although there is no evidence of corticosteroid therapy reduce the mortality of COVID-19 patients, some improvements in clinical symptoms and oxygenation were reported in some clinical observational studies. Excessive inflammatory response and lymphopenia might be critical factors associated with disease severity and mortality of COVID-19. Sufficiently powered randomized controlled trials with rigorous inclusion/exclusion criteria and standardized dose and duration of corticosteroids are needed to verify the effectiveness and safety of corticosteroid therapy.

PMID:32603802 | DOI:10.1016/j.cmi.2020.06.020

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