Efficacy of Tocilizumab in COVID-19: Single-Center Experience

Creative Commons License

Kaya S., Kavak S.

BioMed Research International, vol.2021, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 2021
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1155/2021/1934685
  • Journal Name: BioMed Research International
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Aerospace Database, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, Communication Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Metadex, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Gazi University Affiliated: No


© 2021 Safak Kaya and Seyhmus Kavak.Background. Cytokine release syndrome can be observed during the course of COVID-19. Tocilizumab is used for treating this highly fatal syndrome. We think that the starting time of tocilizumab is important. In this article, we aimed to discuss the efficacy of tocilizumab and to review the necessity of starting it in the early period and the laboratory values that guide us in determining the time of this early period. Methods. This retrospective study includes a total of 308 patients with a diagnosis of COVID-19 who were treated with tocilizumab, who were hospitalized in the University of Health Sciences, Gazi Yaşargil Training and Research Hospital between July 2020 and December 2020. The data of the patients were recorded on the day of hospitalization, the day of taking tocilizumab (day 0), and the 1st day, 3rd day, 7th day, and 14th day after taking tocilizumab. Data included age, gender, underlying diseases, where the patient was followed, duration of symptoms before admission to the hospital, duration of oxygen demand before tocilizumab, fever, saturation, and laboratory values. Patients were divided into the mortality group (group 1) and the survival group (group 2), and all data were compared. Results. The study consisted of 308 COVID-19 patients divided into two groups: the mortality group (group 1, n=135) and the survival group (group 2, n=173). The median age of the patients was 60 (min-max: 50-70) years, 75.3% (n=232) were male, and 56.8% had at least one comorbidity. While 88.9% of group 1 was in the intensive care unit, 26.6% of group 2 received tocilizumab while in the intensive care unit, and there was a statistically significant difference. Median SpO2 values and lymphocyte counts were significantly lower in group 1 than in group 2, both on the day of hospitalization and on the day of the first dose of tocilizumab treatment (p<0.001 for both). C-reactive protein, d-dimer, and alanine aminotransferase values were higher in the mortal group on the first day of hospitalization, and this was significant (p=0.021, p=0.001, and p=0.036, respectively). In our study, d-dimer was 766.5 ng/mL in the survivor group and 988.5 ng/mL in the mortal group. In our patient group, the mean lymphocyte count was 700×103/mm3 in the group that survived the first day of TCZ and 500×103/mm3 in the mortal group. In addition, the CRP value was 135.5 mg/L in the survivor group and 169 mg/L in the mortal group. There was no difference between ferritin values. Conclusions. Tocilizumab is still among the COVID-19 treatment options and appears to be effective. But the start time is important. In order to increase its effectiveness, it may be important to know a cut-off value of the laboratory findings required for the diagnosis of cytokine release syndrome. Further studies are needed for this.