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Impact of Glucocorticoids and Immunosuppressive Therapies on Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection in a Large Cohort of Patients with Chronic Inflammatory Arthritis

29 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2020

See all articles by Ennio Favalli

Ennio Favalli

Gaetano Pini Orthopaedic Institute - Division of Clinical Rheumatology

Serena Bugatti

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Catherine Klersy

Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo - Servizio di Biometria ed Epidemiologia Clinica

Martina Biggioggero

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Silvia Rossi

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Orazio De Lucia

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Francesca Bobbio-Pallavicini

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Antonella Murgo

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute; Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Silvia Balduzzi

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Roberto Caporali

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Carlomaurizio Montecucco

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

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Abstract

Background:  Prevalence and outcomes of Coronavirus Disease (COVID)-19 in relation to immunomodulatory medications are still unknown. The aim of the study is to investigate the impact of glucocorticoids and immunosuppressive agents on COVID-19 in a large cohort of patients with chronic immune-mediated inflammatory arthritis.

Methods:  The study was conducted in the arthritis outpatient clinic at two large Academic Hospitals in the COVID-19 most endemic area of Northern Italy (Lombardy). We circulated a cross-sectional survey exploring the prevalence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus-2 nasopharyngeal swab positivity and the occurrence of acute respiratory illness (fever and/or cough and/or dyspnea), administered face-to-face or by phone to consecutive patients from 25th  February to 20th  April 2020. COVID-19 cases were defined as confirmed or highly suspicious according to the World Health Organization criteria. The impact of medications on COVID-19 incidence was evaluated.

Findings:  The study population included 2050 adults with chronic inflammatory arthritis receiving glucocorticoids, conventional-synthetic (cs), or targeted-synthetic/biological (ts/b) disease-modifying drugs (DMARDs). Laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and highly suspicious infection were recorded in 1.1% and 1.4% of the population, respectively. Treatment with glucocorticoids was independently associated with increased risk of COVID-19 (adjusted OR [95% CI] ranging from 1.23 [1.04-1.44] to 3.20 [1.97-5.18] depending on the definition used). Conversely, patients treated with ts/bDMARDs were at reduced risk (adjusted OR ranging from 0.46 [0.18-1.21] to 0.47 [0.46-0.48]). No independent effects of csDMARDs were observed.

Interpretation:  During the COVID-19 outbreak, treatment with immunomodulatory medications appears safe. Conversely, glucocorticoids, even at low-dose, may confer increased risk of infection.

Funding:   None.

Declaration of Interests: Authors declare no competing interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: The current analysis was approved by the Ethics Committees of the Gaetano Pini Institute and Policlinico San Matteo as part of a project to collect observational data from rheumatological patients followed at the two involved rheumatology units. All included patients have signed an informed consent to participate in the data collection. The possibility of including this survey within the abovementioned data collection project has been waived by the same ethics committee.

Keywords: COVID-19, inflammatory arthritis, immune-mediated inflammatory diseases, immunosuppressants, glucocorticoids, biological drugs, hydroxychloroquine

Suggested Citation

Favalli, Ennio and Bugatti, Serena and Klersy, Catherine and Biggioggero, Martina and Rossi, Silvia and De Lucia, Orazio and Bobbio-Pallavicini, Francesca and Murgo, Antonella and Balduzzi, Silvia and Caporali, Roberto and Montecucco, Carlomaurizio, Impact of Glucocorticoids and Immunosuppressive Therapies on Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infection in a Large Cohort of Patients with Chronic Inflammatory Arthritis (6/26/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3638468 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3638468

Ennio Favalli (Contact Author)

Gaetano Pini Orthopaedic Institute - Division of Clinical Rheumatology ( email )

Milan, 20122
Italy

Serena Bugatti

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Catherine Klersy

Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo - Servizio di Biometria ed Epidemiologia Clinica

Pavia
Italy

Martina Biggioggero

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Silvia Rossi

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Orazio De Lucia

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Francesca Bobbio-Pallavicini

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Antonella Murgo

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Silvia Balduzzi

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

Roberto Caporali

Division of Clinical Rheumatology, ASST Gaetano Pini-CTO Institute

Carlomaurizio Montecucco

Division of Rheumatology, IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo Foundation

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