First results of immunological inflammatory diseases and SARS-CoV-2

8 de September de 2020

The Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital Rheumatology Unit, in collaboration with the Valdecilla Health Research Institute (IDIVAL), has launched a study to determine the relationship between immunological inflammatory diseases and SARS-CoV-2.

Developed by doctors Ricardo Blanco, Miguel Ángel González-Gay and David Martínez-López, the objectives of this research in patients with rheumatological diseases with an immune cause focus on establishing the frequency and characteristics of the COVID-19 disease and on verifying the benefits or harms that immunosuppressive drugs can cause in the treatment of these diseases.

This study is unded by the Carlos III Health Institute through the extraordinary call for COVID-19 projects.  In general, patients with rheumatological diseases with an immune cause, due to their immune-based pathology and the different immunosuppressive treatments, are those who have a higher risk of infection.

In addition, they have pointed out that the treatments used for these diseases, such as corticosteroids, hydroxychloroquine, tocilizumab or anakinra, among others, have been widely used in the treatment of COVID-19.

Since the risk and severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection in these patients is currently unknown, the results of this study may also provide additional information on the role of these widely used drugs in the fight against such infection.

In order to obtain valuable data from an epidemiological point of view, this project is part of the Research Network on Inflammation and Rheumatic Diseases of the Carlos III Health Institute. In this way, the reference population of the study is not limited to Cantabria, but increases to about 2.9 million people.

So far, the Valdecilla researchers and IDIVAL have published two papers on rheumatic diseases of immune cause in the scientific journal with the highest impact factor in the specialty; 'Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases', focused on chronic arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and spondyloarthritis) and systemic autoimmune diseases (lupus, vasculitis, Sjögren's syndrome).

In the first study, they observed a higher prevalence of COVID-19 in patients with systemic autoimmune diseases than in the general population, with the exception of systemic lupus erythematosus. In addition, patients with chronic arthritis in targeted biological and synthetic treatment have also had a higher prevalence of COVID-19, in contrast to patients with regular synthetic treatment.

In a second study, focused on the severity of COVID-19 in the global group of patients with diseases of immune cause, it has been detected that the risk factors for a more severe COVID in the multivariate regression study have been an age greater than 60 years, being a man and having a systemic autoimmune disease. This greater severity was not observed, however, in the group of chronic arthritis or with immunosuppressive, synthetic or biological treatment.