World J Clin Cases. 2020 Dec 6;8(23):5952-5961. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v8.i23.5952.
BACKGROUND: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak has brought great challenges to public health. Aggravation of COVID-19 is closely related to the secondary systemic inflammatory response. Glucocorticoids are used to control severe diseases caused by the cytokine storm, owing to their anti-inflammatory effects. However, glucocorticoids are a double-edged sword, as the use of large doses has the potential risk of secondary infection and long-term serious complications, and may prolong virus clearance time. Nonetheless, the risks and benefits of glucocorticoid adjuvant therapy for COVID-19 are inconclusive.
AIM: To determine the effect of methylprednisolone in severe and critically ill patients with COVID-19.
METHODS: This single-center retrospective study included 102 adult COVID-19 patients admitted to a ward of a designated hospital in Wuhan, Hubei Province from January to March 2020. All patients received general symptomatic treatment and organ function support, and were given different respiratory support measures according to their conditions. In case of deterioration, considering the hyperinflammatory state of the patients, methylprednisolone was intravenously administered at 0.75-1.5 mg/kg/d, usually for less than 14 d. Patient vital signs and oxygenation were closely monitored, in combination with imaging and routine blood tests such as C-reactive protein, biochemical indicators (liver and kidney function, myocardial enzymes, electrolytes, etc.), and coagulation function. Patient clinical outcomes were discharge or death.
RESULTS: A total of 102 severe and critically ill COVID-19 patients were included in this study. They were divided into treatment (69, 67.6%) and control groups (33, 32.4%) according to methylprednisolone use. Comparison of baseline data between the two groups showed that the treatment group patients had higher aspartic acid aminotransferase, globulin, hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase, and lactate dehydrogenase. There was no significant difference in other baseline data between the two groups. With regard to prognosis, 29 (78.4%) patients in the treatment group died as opposed to 40 (61.5%) in the control group. The mortality was higher in the treatment group than in the control group; however, according to the log-rank test and the Kaplan-Meier survival curve, the difference in mortality between both groups was insignificant (P = 0.655). The COX regression equation was used to correct the variables with differences, and the results showed that methylprednisolone treatment did not improve prognosis.
CONCLUSION: Methylprednisolone treatment does not improve prognosis in severe and critical COVID-19 patients.