Image of the cytokine IP-10
I have been reading some reports about cytokine storms in patients with COVID-19 that fare poorly and end up on ventilators in the ICU.
Here is one such study which was submitted for publication on March 6th:
They analyzed levels of 48 cytokines (!) in COVID-19 patients and healthy controls.
What is IP-10? Also known as CXCL10: it is a chemoattractant for various types of white blood cells and promotes inflammation.
What is IL-1Ra? The interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) blocks the IL-1 receptor and is a natural inhibitor of the pro-inflammatory effect of IL1 (which causes fever for example). A slightly modified version of IL-1Ra, called anakinra, is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease in which IL-1 plays a key role
What is MCP-3? Also known as CCL7. It is a chemokine that attracts monocytes, a type of white blood cell.
It is beginning to look like a familiar scenario. Too much of an immune response is not a good thing. Cytokine storms have famously contributed to the lethality of influenza such as the Spanish flu of 1918.
It is important, because there are a number of drugs that can block specific cytokines. For example, anti-IP-10 is a possible therapeutic (Eldelumab).
It may be premature, but it is the best available data to explain why some with COVID-19 have a minor disease and others have life threatening disease.