BACKGROUND COVID-19 remains a global health emergency with limited treatment options, lagging vaccine rates, and inadequate healthcare resources in the face of an ongoing calamity. The disease is characterized by immune dysregulation and cytokine storm. Cyclosporine A (CSA) is a calcineurin inhibitor that modulates cytokine production and may have direct antiviral properties against coronaviruses.METHODS To test whether a short course of CSA was safe in patients with COVID-19, we treated 10 hospitalized, oxygen-requiring, noncritically ill patients with CSA (starting at a dose of 9 mg/kg/d). We evaluated patients for clinical response and adverse events, measured serum cytokines and chemokines associated with COVID-19 hyperinflammation, and conducted gene-expression analyses.RESULTS Five participants experienced adverse events, none of which were serious; transaminitis was most common. No participant required intensive care unit–level care, and all patients were discharged alive. CSA treatment was associated with significant reductions in serum cytokines and chemokines important in COVID-19 hyperinflammation, including CXCL10. Following CSA administration, we also observed a significant reduction in type I IFN gene expression signatures and other transcriptional profiles associated with exacerbated hyperinflammation in the peripheral blood cells of these patients.CONCLUSION Short courses of CSA appear safe and feasible in patients with COVID-19 who require oxygen and may be a useful adjunct in resource-limited health care settings.TRIAL REGISTRATION This trial was registered on ClinicalTrials.gov (Investigational New Drug Application no. 149997; ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04412785).FUNDING This study was internally funded by the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies.
Emily A. Blumberg, Julia Han Noll, Pablo Tebas, Joseph A. Fraietta, Ian Frank, Amy Marshall, Anne Chew, Elizabeth A. Veloso, Alison Carulli, Walter Rogal, Avery L. Gaymon, Aliza H. Schmidt, Tiffany Barnette, Renee Jurek, Rene Martins, Briana M. Hudson, Kalyan Chavda, Christina M. Bailey, Sarah E. Church, Hooman Noorchashm, Wei-Ting Hwang, Carl H. June, Elizabeth O. Hexner