Since the publication of the RECOVERY trial, the use of glucocorticoid drugs (GC) has spread for the treatment of severe COVID-19 worldwide. However, the benefit of dexamethasone was largest in patients who received mechanical ventilation or supplemental oxygen therapy, while no benefit was found among patients without hypoxemia. In addition, a positive outcome was found in patients who received dexamethasone after several days of symptoms, while possible harm could exist if administered early. The right time interval for GC administration is still a matter of debate. Previous studies showed that an early GC use during the first phase of the disease, when viral replication peaks, may negatively affect the innate immune response through several mechanisms, such as the inhibition of pro-inflammatory and antiviral cytokine production and signaling pathway, including type I interferon, that is fundamental to counteract the virus and that was found to be impaired in several patients with life-threatening COVID-19. The GC misuse can lead to a more severe disease even in patients who do not have the established risk factors, such as obesity and cardiovascular diseases. In our focused review, we describe the role of immune response in viral infections, especially SARS-CoV-2, and discuss the potential harms of GC misuse in COVID-19.
Possible harm from glucocorticoid drugs misuse in the early phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection: a narrative review of the evidence / Sarzani, R.; Spannella, F.; Giulietti, F.; Di Pentima, C.; Giordano, P.; Giacometti, A.. - In: INTERNAL AND EMERGENCY MEDICINE. - ISSN 1828-0447. - ELETTRONICO. - 17:2(2022), pp. 329-338. [10.1007/s11739-021-02860-3]