Mediterr J Rheumatol 2020;31(Suppl 2):259-67
Anti-Rheumatic Drugs for the Fight Against the Novel Coronavirus Infection (SARS-CoV-2): What is the Evidence?
Authors Information

Rheumatology Clinic, Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Ioannina, Ioannina, Greece

Eleftherios Pelechas, Vassiliki Drossou, Paraskevi V. Voulgari, Alexandros A. Drosos


SARS-CoV-2 is a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus that causes the COVID-19 infection. Spike proteins are the most important proteins found on its capsule using the host’s ACE2 receptors to invade respiratory cells. The natural course of the COVID-19 infection is variable, from asymptomatic to severe and potentially fatal. A small percentage of the severely infected patients will end up in an intensive care unit for ventilatory support.

Elderly male patients with pre-existing medical conditions and smokers are at a disproportionate high risk to develop severe complications. Studies have shown that deaths occur due to a dysregulated immune system that overreacts, producing a plethora of cytokines, leading to the so-called “cytokine storm” phenomenon. In this direction, many drugs that are used in the everyday practice of Rheumatologists have been used. Indeed, pro-inflammatory cytokines such as the IL-1 and IL-6 have been shown to be the pivotal cytokines expressed, and anti-cytokine treatment has been tried so far with various results. In addition, hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug, has been shown to reduce COVID-19 symptoms. Other drugs have also been used, such as intravenous pulses of immunoglobulins, and colchicine. Robust clinical trials are needed in order to find the suitable treatment. Current data indicate that hydroxychloroquine and cytokine targeting therapies may prove helpful in the fight of SARS-CoV-2 in appropriately selected patients.  


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY). 

 ©Pelechas E, Drossou V, Voulgari PV, Drosos AA.

 Article Submitted: 14 Apr 2020; Revised Form: 9 Sep 2020; Article Accepted: 11 Sep 2020; Available Online: 21 Sep 2020