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Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol ; 35: 20587384211063976, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1582484


The underlying cause of many complications associated with severe COVID-19 is attributed to the inflammatory cytokine storm that leads to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which appears to be the leading cause of death in COVID-19. Systemic corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory activity through repression of pro-inflammatory genes and inhibition of inflammatory cytokines, which makes them a potential medical intervention to diminish the upregulated inflammatory response. Early in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, the role of corticosteroids was unclear. Corticosteroid use in other indications such as ARDS and septic shock has proven benefit while its use in other respiratory viral pneumonias is associated with reduced viral clearance and increased secondary infections. This review article evaluates the benefits and harms of systemic corticosteroids in patients with COVID-19 to assist clinicians in improving patient outcomes, including patient safety. Dexamethasone up to 10 days is the preferred regimen to reduce mortality risk in COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen support, mechanical ventilation, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. If dexamethasone is unavailable, other corticosteroids can be substituted at equivalent doses. Higher doses of corticosteroids may be beneficial in patients who develop ARDS. Corticosteroids should be avoided early in the disease course when patients do not require oxygen support because of potential harms.

Adrenal Cortex Hormones/therapeutic use , COVID-19/drug therapy , Adrenal Cortex Hormones/adverse effects , Dexamethasone/adverse effects , Dexamethasone/therapeutic use , Humans , Hydrocortisone/adverse effects , Hydrocortisone/therapeutic use , Influenza, Human/drug therapy , Methylprednisolone/adverse effects , Methylprednisolone/therapeutic use , Prednisolone/adverse effects , Prednisolone/therapeutic use
J Clin Endocrinol Metab ; 106(3): 622-635, 2021 03 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-949098


This paper attempts to explain how the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus causes the complications that make coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) a serious disease in specific patient subgroups. It suggests that cortisol-associated activation of the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in epithelial and endothelial cells infected with the virus stimulates the release of adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP), which then acts back on purinergic receptors. In the lung this could produce the nonproductive cough via purinergic P2X3 receptors on vagal afferent nerves. In endothelial cells it could stimulate exocytosis of Weibel-Palade bodies (WPBs) that contain angiopoietin-2, which is important in the pathogenesis of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) by increasing capillary permeability and von Willebrand factor (VWF), which mediates platelet adhesion to the endothelium and hence clotting. Angiopoietin-2 and VWF levels both are markedly elevated in COVID-19-associated ARDS. This paper offers an explanation for the sex differences in SARS-CoV-2 complications and also for why these are strongly associated with age, race, diabetes, and body mass index. It also explains why individuals with blood group A have a higher risk of severe infection than those with blood group O. Dexamethasone has been shown to be of benefit in coronavirus ARDS patients and has been thought to act as an anti-inflammatory drug. This paper suggests that a major part of its effect may be due to suppression of cortisol secretion. There is an urgent need to trial the combination of dexamethasone and an MR antagonist such as spironolactone to more effectively block the MR and hence the exocytosis of WPBs.

Adenosine Triphosphate/metabolism , COVID-19/complications , Hydrocortisone/pharmacology , Receptors, Mineralocorticoid/agonists , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2/physiology , Blood Coagulation Disorders/etiology , Blood Coagulation Disorders/metabolism , Blood Coagulation Disorders/virology , COVID-19/drug therapy , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Dexamethasone/therapeutic use , Eplerenone/therapeutic use , Humans , Hydrocortisone/adverse effects , Hydrocortisone/metabolism , Mineralocorticoid Receptor Antagonists/therapeutic use , Models, Biological , Paracrine Communication/drug effects , Receptors, Mineralocorticoid/metabolism , Receptors, Purinergic/physiology , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/complications , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/metabolism , Respiratory Distress Syndrome/virology , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , SARS-CoV-2/pathogenicity , Severity of Illness Index , Spironolactone/therapeutic use
JAMA ; 324(13): 1317-1329, 2020 10 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-739603


Importance: Evidence regarding corticosteroid use for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is limited. Objective: To determine whether hydrocortisone improves outcome for patients with severe COVID-19. Design, Setting, and Participants: An ongoing adaptive platform trial testing multiple interventions within multiple therapeutic domains, for example, antiviral agents, corticosteroids, or immunoglobulin. Between March 9 and June 17, 2020, 614 adult patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 were enrolled and randomized within at least 1 domain following admission to an intensive care unit (ICU) for respiratory or cardiovascular organ support at 121 sites in 8 countries. Of these, 403 were randomized to open-label interventions within the corticosteroid domain. The domain was halted after results from another trial were released. Follow-up ended August 12, 2020. Interventions: The corticosteroid domain randomized participants to a fixed 7-day course of intravenous hydrocortisone (50 mg or 100 mg every 6 hours) (n = 143), a shock-dependent course (50 mg every 6 hours when shock was clinically evident) (n = 152), or no hydrocortisone (n = 108). Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was organ support-free days (days alive and free of ICU-based respiratory or cardiovascular support) within 21 days, where patients who died were assigned -1 day. The primary analysis was a bayesian cumulative logistic model that included all patients enrolled with severe COVID-19, adjusting for age, sex, site, region, time, assignment to interventions within other domains, and domain and intervention eligibility. Superiority was defined as the posterior probability of an odds ratio greater than 1 (threshold for trial conclusion of superiority >99%). Results: After excluding 19 participants who withdrew consent, there were 384 patients (mean age, 60 years; 29% female) randomized to the fixed-dose (n = 137), shock-dependent (n = 146), and no (n = 101) hydrocortisone groups; 379 (99%) completed the study and were included in the analysis. The mean age for the 3 groups ranged between 59.5 and 60.4 years; most patients were male (range, 70.6%-71.5%); mean body mass index ranged between 29.7 and 30.9; and patients receiving mechanical ventilation ranged between 50.0% and 63.5%. For the fixed-dose, shock-dependent, and no hydrocortisone groups, respectively, the median organ support-free days were 0 (IQR, -1 to 15), 0 (IQR, -1 to 13), and 0 (-1 to 11) days (composed of 30%, 26%, and 33% mortality rates and 11.5, 9.5, and 6 median organ support-free days among survivors). The median adjusted odds ratio and bayesian probability of superiority were 1.43 (95% credible interval, 0.91-2.27) and 93% for fixed-dose hydrocortisone, respectively, and were 1.22 (95% credible interval, 0.76-1.94) and 80% for shock-dependent hydrocortisone compared with no hydrocortisone. Serious adverse events were reported in 4 (3%), 5 (3%), and 1 (1%) patients in the fixed-dose, shock-dependent, and no hydrocortisone groups, respectively. Conclusions and Relevance: Among patients with severe COVID-19, treatment with a 7-day fixed-dose course of hydrocortisone or shock-dependent dosing of hydrocortisone, compared with no hydrocortisone, resulted in 93% and 80% probabilities of superiority with regard to the odds of improvement in organ support-free days within 21 days. However, the trial was stopped early and no treatment strategy met prespecified criteria for statistical superiority, precluding definitive conclusions. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT02735707.

Anti-Inflammatory Agents/administration & dosage , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Hydrocortisone/administration & dosage , Pneumonia, Viral/drug therapy , Respiration, Artificial/statistics & numerical data , Adrenal Cortex Hormones/therapeutic use , Adult , Anti-Inflammatory Agents/adverse effects , Betacoronavirus , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/mortality , Coronavirus Infections/therapy , Early Termination of Clinical Trials , Female , Humans , Hydrocortisone/adverse effects , Intensive Care Units , Male , Middle Aged , Pandemics , Pneumonia, Viral/mortality , Pneumonia, Viral/therapy , SARS-CoV-2 , Shock/drug therapy , Shock/etiology , Treatment Outcome