Tocilizumab exerts anti-inflammatory activity in six critically ill COVID-19 patients: a retrospective analysis

Link to article at PubMed

Ann Transl Med. 2020 Jul;8(14):881. doi: 10.21037/atm-20-5080.


BACKGROUND: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has become a worldwide pandemic, affecting countries across the globe. With no current vaccine, treatment is still a critical intervention for minimizing morbidity and preventing disease-specific mortality. This study aimed to assess the clinical outcomes of critically ill COVID-19 patients using Tocilizumab treatment to provide recommendations for the treatment of COVID-19 patients with severe disease.

METHODS: This was a retrospective analysis of medical records of six critically ill patients admitted to the Third People's Hospital of Shenzhen, China, from January 11 to February 26, 2020. Patient-related outcomes, including demographic, clinical, and laboratory characteristics before and after the initiation of Tocilizumab, were descriptively analyzed. Four to eight milligrams (mg)/kilogram (kg) of Tocilizumab was prescribed, with Chinese treatment guidelines.

RESULTS: By the end of the last follow-up, Patient 1 and Patient 2 developed complications and died after using Tocilizumab for three to four days. Patient 4 died of multiple organ failure caused by cerebral infarction after using Tocilizumab for 39 days. Patient 3 and Patient 6 were discharged after 29 days and 33 days on Tocilizumab, respectively. Clinical symptoms, including fever, heart rate, and oxygen levels, improved after Tocilizumab use. Two patients appeared transient abnormal of liver or renal function indicator, and they can gradually recover. All elevated serum levels of inflammatory factors gradually decreased, except in Patient 2. Patient 3 and Patient 6's inflammatory lesions also significantly improved after initiating Tocilizumab.

CONCLUSIONS: Anti-inflammatory treatment with Tocilizumab was found to improve inflammatory responses in critically ill COVID-19 patients. Although some side reactions will occur, patients can gradually recover without affecting the efficacy of the therapy. However, the proper timing to start patients on Tocilizumab patients should be explored. Further prospective, randomized controlled clinical trials are called for.

PMID:32793725 | PMC:PMC7396762 | DOI:10.21037/atm-20-5080

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