Clinical efficacy and safety of combination therapy of tocilizumab and steroid pulse therapy for critical COVID-19 in HD patients

Masataro Toda, Kentaro Fujii, Ayumi Yoshifuji, Yasushi Kondo, Kazuto Itoh, Kazuhiko Sekine, Takahide Kikuchi, Munekazu Ryuzaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Critical coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has a high fatality rate, especially in hemodialysis (HD) patients, with this poor prognosis being caused by systemic hyperinflammation; cytokine storms. Steroid pulse therapy or tocilizumab (TCZ) have insufficient inhibitory effects against cytokine storms in critical cases. This study evaluated the clinical effects and safety of combining steroid pulse therapy and TCZ. Methods: From September 2020 to May 2021, 201 patients with COVID-19 were admitted to our hospital. Before February 2021, patients with an oxygen demand exceeding 8 L/min were intubated and treated with standard therapy (dexamethasone and antiviral therapy). After February 2021, patients underwent high-flow nasal cannula oxygen therapy and were treated with TCZ (8 mg/kg) and methylprednisolone (mPSL) (500 mg/day [≤ 75 kg], 1000 mg/day [> 75 kg]) for 3 days. We compared background characteristics, laboratory findings, and prognosis between non-HD and HD patients and between patients who received and did not receive TCZ and mPSL pulse therapy. Results: Among non-HD patients, the TCZ + mPSL pulse group had significantly higher survival rates and lower secondary infection rates (p < 0.05), than the standard therapy group. All HD patients in the standard therapy group with oxygen demand exceeding 8 L/min died. Contrastingly, all patients in the TCZ + mPSL pulse group survived, with their oxygen demand decreasing to 0–1 L/min within 3 weeks post-administration. Conclusion: TCZ combined with mPSL pulse therapy improved the survival rate without significant adverse events in critical HD and non-HD patients with COVID-19 by strongly suppressing systemic hyperinflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-85
Number of pages11
JournalClinical and experimental nephrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jan


  • COVID-19
  • Cytokine storms
  • Hemodialysis
  • Steroid pulse therapy
  • Tocilizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Nephrology
  • Physiology (medical)


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