The Use of Corticosteroids or Tocilizumab in COVID-19 Based on Inflammatory Markers

Link to article at PubMed

J Gen Intern Med. 2021 Oct 18. doi: 10.1007/s11606-021-07146-0. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The inflammatory cascade is the main cause of death in COVID-19 patients. Corticosteroids (CS) and tocilizumab (TCZ) are available to treat this escalation but which patients to administer it remains undefined.

OBJECTIVE: We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory therapy in COVID-19, based on the degree of inflammation.

DESIGN: A retrospective cohort study with data on patients collected and followed up from March 1st, 2020, to May 1st, 2021, from the nationwide Spanish SEMI-COVID-19 Registry. Patients under treatment with CS vs. those under CS plus TCZ were compared. Effectiveness was explored in 3 risk categories (low, intermediate, high) based on lymphocyte count, C-reactive protein (CRP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), ferritin, and D-dimer values.

PATIENTS: A total of 21,962 patients were included in the Registry by May 2021. Of these, 5940 met the inclusion criteria for the present study (5332 were treated with CS and 608 with CS plus TCZ).

MAIN MEASURES: The primary outcome of the study was in-hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes were the composite variable of in-hospital mortality, requirement for high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC), non-invasive mechanical ventilation (NIMV), invasive mechanical ventilation (IMV), or intensive care unit (ICU) admission.

KEY RESULTS: A total of 5940 met the inclusion criteria for the present study (5332 were treated with CS and 608 with CS plus TCZ). No significant differences were observed in either the low/intermediate-risk category (1.5% vs. 7.4%, p=0.175) or the high-risk category (23.1% vs. 20%, p=0.223) after propensity score matching. A statistically significant lower mortality was observed in the very high-risk category (31.9% vs. 23.9%, p=0.049).

CONCLUSIONS: The prescription of CS alone or in combination with TCZ should be based on the degrees of inflammation and reserve the CS plus TCZ combination for patients at high and especially very high risk.

PMID:34664188 | DOI:10.1007/s11606-021-07146-0

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