PLoS One. 2021 Jan 7;16(1):e0244853. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0244853. eCollection 2021.
BACKGROUND: Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) plays a pivotal role in the pathophysiology and progression of Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). Therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) by removing the pathogenic cytokines is hypothesized to dampen CRS.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the outcomes of the patients with COVID-19 having CRS being treated with TPE compared to controls on the standard of care.
METHODOLOGY: Retrospective propensity score-matched analysis in a single centre from 1st April to 31st July 2020. We retrospectively analyzed data of 280 hospitalized patients developing CRS initially. PSM was used to minimize bias from non-randomized treatment assignment. Using PSM 1:1, 90 patients were selected and assigned to 2 equal groups. Forced matching was done for disease severity, routine standard care and advanced supportive care. Many other Co-variates were matched. Primary outcome was 28 days overall survival. Secondary outcomes were duration of hospitalization, CRS resolution time and timing of viral clearance on Polymerase chain reaction testing.
RESULTS: After PS-matching, the selected cohort had a median age of 60 years (range 32-73 in TPE, 37-75 in controls), p = 0.325 and all were males. Median symptoms duration was 7 days (range 3-22 days' TPE and 3-20 days controls), p = 0.266. Disease severity in both groups was 6 (6.6%) moderate, 40 (44.4%) severe and 44 (49%) critical. Overall, 28-day survival was significantly superior in the TPE group (91.1%), 95% CI 78.33-97.76; as compared to PS-matched controls (61.5%), 95% CI 51.29-78.76 (log rank 0.002), p<0.001. Median duration of hospitalization was significantly reduced in the TPE treated group (10 days vs 15 days) (p< 0.01). CRS resolution time was also significantly reduced in the TPE group (6 days vs. 12 days) (p< 0.001). In 71 patients who underwent TPE, the mortality was 0 (n = 43) if TPE was done within the first 12 days of illness while it was 17.9% (deaths 5, n = 28 who received it after 12th day (p = 0.0045).
CONCLUSION: An earlier use of TPE was associated with improved overall survival, early CRS resolution and time to discharge compared to SOC for COVID-19 triggered CRS in this selected cohort of PS-matched male patients from one major hospital in Pakistan.