Publications & Posters

The Association of Inflammatory Cytokines in the Pulmonary Pathophysiology of Respiratory Failure in Critically Ill Patients With Coronavirus Disease 2019.


Stukas S, Hoiland RL, Cooper J, Thiara S, Griesdale DE, Thomas AD, Orde MM, English JC, Chen LYC, Foster D, Mitra AR, Romano K, Sweet DD, Ronco JJ, Kanji HD, Chen Y-WR, Wong SL, Wellington CL and Sekhon MS.

Critical Care Explorations. 2020;2:e0203

DOI: 10.1097/CCE.0000000000000203



The majority of coronavirus disease 2019 mortality and morbidity is attributable to respiratory failure from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection. The pathogenesis underpinning coronavirus disease 2019-induced respiratory failure may be attributable to a dysregulated host immune response. Our objective was to investigate the pathophysiological relationship between proinflammatory cytokines and respiratory failure in severe coronavirus disease 2019.


Multicenter prospective observational study.




Critically ill patients with coronavirus disease 2019 and noncoronavirus disease 2019 critically ill patients with respiratory failure (ICU control group).


Daily measurement of serum inflammatory cytokines.

Measurements and Main Results: 

Demographics, comorbidities, clinical, physiologic, and laboratory data were collected daily. Daily serum samples were drawn for measurements of interleukin-1β, interleukin-6, interleukin-10, and tumor necrosis factor-α. Pulmonary outcomes were the ratio of Pao2/Fio2 and static lung compliance. Twenty-six patients with coronavirus disease 2019 and 22 ICU controls were enrolled. Of the patients with coronavirus disease 2019, 58% developed acute respiratory distress syndrome, 62% required mechanical ventilation, 12% underwent extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and 23% died. A negative correlation between interleukin-6 and Pao2/Fio2 (rho, –0.531; p = 0.0052) and static lung compliance (rho, –0.579; p = 0.033) was found selectively in the coronavirus disease 2019 group. Diagnosis of acute respiratory distress syndrome was associated with significantly elevated serum interleukin-6 and interleukin-1β on the day of diagnosis.


The inverse relationship between serum interleukin-6 and Pao2/Fio2 and static lung compliance is specific to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection in critically ill patients with respiratory failure. Similar observations were not found with interleukin-β or tumor necrosis factor-α.