Background: Elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines have been associated with poor outcomes among COVID-19 patients. It is unknown, however, how these levels compare to those observed in critically ill patients with ARDS or sepsis due to other causes. Methods: We used a luminex assay to determine expression of 76 cytokines from plasma of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and banked plasma samples from ARDS and sepsis patients. Our analysis focused on detecting statistical differences in levels of 6 cytokines associated with cytokine storm (IL-1b, IL-1RA, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, and TNFα) between patients with moderate COVID-19, severe COVID-19, and ARDS or sepsis. Results: 15 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, 9 of whom were critically ill, were compared to critically ill patients with ARDS (n = 12) or sepsis (n = 16). There were no statistically significant differences in baseline levels of IL-1b, IL-1RA, IL-6, IL-8, IL-18, and TNFα between patients with COVID-19 and critically ill controls with ARDS or sepsis. Conclusions: Levels of inflammatory cytokines were not higher in severe COVID-19 patients than in moderate COVID-19 or critically ill patients with ARDS or sepsis in this small cohort. Broad use of immunosuppressive therapies in ARDS has failed in numerous Phase 3 studies; use of these therapies in unselected patients with COVID-19 may be unwarranted. Funding: A.J.R.: Stanford ICU Biobank NHLBI K23 HL125663. C.A.B.: Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases #1016687; NIH/NIAID U19AI057229-16 (PI MM Davis); Stanford Maternal Child Health Research Institute; Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.
Jennifer G. Wilson, Laura J. Simpson, Anne-Maud Ferreira, Arjun Rustagi, Jonasel A. Roque, Adijat Asuni, Thanmayi Ranganath, Philip M. Grant, Aruna K. Subramanian, Yael Rosenberg-Hasson, Holden Maecker, Susan Holmes, Joseph E. Levitt, Catherine Blish, Angela J. Rogers