Pulm Pharmacol Ther. 2021 May 20:102039. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2021.102039. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND AND AIM: Cytokine release syndrome is a dangerous complication of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of tofacitinib in the management of this complication.
METHODS: The retrospective study included COVID-19 patients with C-reactive protein (CRP) levels of 60-150 mg/l.
RESULTS: Thirty-two patients who received tofacitinib (TOF group) and 30 patients who did not receive any anti-cytokine drugs (control [CON] group) were enrolled. Mortality and the incidence of admission to the intensive care unit were lower in the TOF group than in the CON group (16.6% vs. 40.0%, p=0.009; and 15.6% vs. 50.0%, p=0.004). There was a significant decrease in the volume of the affected part of the lungs (p=0.022) and a significant increase in oxygen saturation (p=0.012) in the TOF group than in the CON group 7-10 days after the beginning tofacitinib administration. CRP level was lower in the TOF group than in the CON group (7[3-22] vs. 20[5-52] mg/L; p=0.048) 7-10 days after the start of the administration of tofacitinib. During this period, the number of patients requiring mechanical ventilation or those in the prone position increased in the CON group compared to those in the TOF group (26.7% vs. 0.0%, p=0.002; 33.3% vs. 6.7%, p=0.020). There was no significant difference in the development of secondary infections, liver or kidney injury, and cytopenia between the two groups.
CONCLUSION: Tofacitinib was effective and safe for managing the cytokine release syndrome in COVID-19. Randomized controlled double-blind trials with tofacitinib with and without the simultaneous use of glucocorticoids are required to confirm our findings.