Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Historically controlled comparison of glucocorticoids with or without tocilizumab versus supportive care only in patients with COVID-19-associated cytokine storm syndrome: results of the CHIC study

Abstract

Objectives To prospectively investigate in patients with severe COVID-19-associated cytokine storm syndrome (CSS) whether an intensive course of glucocorticoids with or without tocilizumab accelerates clinical improvement, reduces mortality and prevents invasive mechanical ventilation, in comparison with a historic control group of patients who received supportive care only.

Methods From 1 April 2020, patients with COVID-19-associated CSS, defined as rapid respiratory deterioration plus at least two out of three biomarkers with important elevations (C-reactive protein >100 mg/L; ferritin >900 µg/L; D-dimer >1500 µg/L), received high-dose intravenous methylprednisolone for 5 consecutive days (250 mg on day 1 followed by 80 mg on days 2–5). If the respiratory condition had not improved sufficiently (in 43%), the interleukin-6 receptor blocker tocilizumab (8 mg/kg body weight, single infusion) was added on or after day 2. Control patients with COVID-19-associated CSS (same definition) were retrospectively sampled from the pool of patients (n=350) admitted between 7 March and 31 March, and matched one to one to treated patients on sex and age. The primary outcome was ≥2 stages of improvement on a 7-item WHO-endorsed scale for trials in patients with severe influenza pneumonia, or discharge from the hospital. Secondary outcomes were hospital mortality and mechanical ventilation.

Results At baseline all patients with COVID-19 in the treatment group (n=86) and control group (n=86) had symptoms of CSS and faced acute respiratory failure. Treated patients had 79% higher likelihood on reaching the primary outcome (HR: 1.8; 95% CI 1.2 to 2.7) (7 days earlier), 65% less mortality (HR: 0.35; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.65) and 71% less invasive mechanical ventilation (HR: 0.29; 95% CI 0.14 to 0.65). Treatment effects remained constant in confounding and sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions A strategy involving a course of high-dose methylprednisolone, followed by tocilizumab if needed, may accelerate respiratory recovery, lower hospital mortality and reduce the likelihood of invasive mechanical ventilation in COVID-19-associated CSS.

  • cytokines
  • glucocorticoids
  • biological therapy
  • epidemiology

This article is made freely available for use in accordance with BMJ’s website terms and conditions for the duration of the covid-19 pandemic or until otherwise determined by BMJ. You may use, download and print the article for any lawful, non-commercial purpose (including text and data mining) provided that all copyright notices and trade marks are retained.

https://bmj.com/coronavirus/usage

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.