The Effect of Neutropenia and Filgrastim (G-CSF) in Cancer Patients With COVID-19 Infection

Link to article at PubMed

medRxiv. 2020 Aug 15:2020.08.13.20174565. doi: 10.1101/2020.08.13.20174565. Preprint.


BACKGROUND: Neutropenia is commonly encountered in cancer patients, and recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF, filgrastim) is widely given to oncology patients to counteract neutropenia and prevent infection. G-CSF is both a growth factor and cytokine that initiates proliferation and differentiation of mature granulocytes. However, the clinical impact of neutropenia and G-CSF use in cancer patients, who are also afflicted with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), remains unknown.

METHODS: An observational cohort of 304 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center was assembled to investigate links between concurrent neutropenia (N=55) and G-CSF administration (N=16) on COVID-19-associated respiratory failure and death. These factors were assessed as time-dependent predictors using an extended Cox model, controlling for age and underlying cancer diagnosis. To determine whether the degree of granulocyte response to G-CSF affected outcomes, a similar model was constructed with patients that received G-CSF, categorized into high- and low-response, based on the level of absolute neutrophil count (ANC) rise 24 hours after growth factor administration.

RESULTS: Neutropenia (ANC < 1 K/mcL) during COVID-19 course was not independently associated with severe respiratory failure or death (HR: 0.71, 95% Cl: 0.34-1.50, P value: 0.367) in hospitalized COVID-19 patients. When controlling for neutropenia, G-CSF administration was associated with increased need for high oxygen supplementation and death (HR: 2.97, 95% CI: 1.06-8.28, P value: 0.038). This effect was predominantly seen in patients that exhibited a high response to G-CSF based on their ANC increase post-G-CSF administration (HR: 5.18, 95% CI: 1.61-16.64, P value: 0.006).

CONCLUSION: Possible risks versus benefits of G-CSF administration should be weighed in neutropenic cancer patients with COVID-19 infection, as G-CSF may lead to worsening clinical and respiratory status in this setting.

PMID:32817981 | PMC:PMC7430626 | DOI:10.1101/2020.08.13.20174565

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