Logo Medical Science Monitor

Call: +1.631.470.9640
Mon - Fri 10:00 am - 02:00 pm EST

Contact Us

Logo Medical Science Monitor Logo Medical Science Monitor Logo Medical Science Monitor

25 November 2021: Clinical Research  

Use of Monoclonal Antibodies Therapy for Treatment of Mild to Moderate COVID-19 in 4 Patients with Rheumatologic Disorders

Giovanni Franchin 1ADEF , Nikhitha Mantri 2ABDEF , Maleeha Zahid 2BEF , Haozhe Sun 2BE , Sudharsan R. Gongati 2BE , Diana M. Ronderos 2BE , Snigdha Gadireddy 2BE , Sridhar Chilimuri 2ABDEF*

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934267

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e934267

0 Comments

Abstract

BACKGROUND: The use of monoclonal antibodies therapy (MAT) in early mild to moderate Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has gained importance in recent times. However, there is limited information on the safety and efficacy of MAT in treating COVID-19 in patients with underlying rheumatologic diseases. Patients with rheumatologic diseases are usually on long-term corticosteroids and immunosuppressive therapy, which increases their risk for progressing to more severe forms of COVID-19. We report a case series of 4 patients with rheumatologic diseases who were treated with MAT for COVID-19.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective observational study was conducted in our institution on patients with underlying rheumatological disorders who received MAT as per the EUA protocol of the FDA.

RESULTS: Two of the 4 patients were on immunosuppresive therapy at the time of receiving MAT. They recovered from COVID-19 without any adverse outcomes. No flare of underlying rheumatologic disease was noted.

CONCLUSIONS: MAT was observed to be a safe and effective therapy in 4 patients with rheumatological illnesses and COVID-19 treated at our hospital.

Keywords: Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Imdevimab, Casirivimab, Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic, Psoriasis, Sjogren's Syndrome

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory distress syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) was first detected in December 2019, then rapidly spread throughout the world [1]. The virus enters the host’s cells via the angiotensin-converting enzyme receptor 2 (ACE-R2) and initiates a T cell response leading to a release of high levels of cytokines [2-6]. Patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 can present with a wide range of symptoms from asymptomatic or mild to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan failure.

SARS-CoV-2 infection in patients with rheumatologic disorders is an area of special interest due to a potential higher risk in these patients to progress to severe forms of the disease considering the chronic immunosuppressive state because of corticosteroids and other medications used to treat their underlying disease [7,8]. Moreover, some reports have suggested that COVID-19 infection can induce disease flares in patients with an established or new-onset rheumatologic disease [9–11]. Reports on the prognosis of COVID-19 infection in patients with rheumatologic disorders have been conflicting. While some studies have shown higher rates of complications, increase of flare rate, or death in this population [12–17], others have suggested that the disease progression and complication rates are similar in patients with underlying rheumatologic diseases compared to the general population [18–24].

The use of MAT including bamlanivimab, casirivimab-imdevimab, and bamlanivimab-etesevimab in the management of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients with high risk for disease progression due to underlying comorbidities has shown promising results in the outpatient setting [25–27]. As a community hospital serving a low-income neighborhood in the Bronx with a high prevalence of disease comorbidities, we have had a positive experience with the use MAT in several patients who successfully recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The efficacy and safety of these antibodies have not been fully assessed in patients with rheumatologic diseases; therefore, we report the outcome of 4 patients with distinct rheumatologic conditions who were treated with MAT for COVID-19 at our center.

Material and Methods

A retrospective observational study was conducted from November 27, 2020 to March 17, 2021 at BronxCare Health System. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at BronxCare Health System (IRB # 01 14 21 16).

Adult patients (≥18 years of age) diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 based on National Institutes of Health (NIH) guidelines were offered MAT [28,29]. Patients who had associated rheumatologic test results were included in the study. COVID-19 was diagnosed using the real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of SARS-CoV-2 in nasopharyngeal swabs from the study population. The inclusion and exclusion criteria were based on emergency use authorization (EUA) guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during the study period for bamlanivimab (700 mg) or casirivimab-imdevimab (1200 mg-1200 mg). Patients were clinically monitored during the drug administration in an ambulatory setting and were observed for at least 1 h after infusion. They were then followed up by phone/telehealth visits until the COVID-19 symptoms resolved. On resolution of symptoms, patients were followed up in ambulatory clinics to evaluate for any adverse events or flare of underlying rheumatological diseases.

Data pertaining to demographics, comorbidities, and medications were abstracted from electronic medical records. All patients were followed up via telehealth or clinic visits.

Results

CASE 1: A PATIENT WITH PSORIASIS:

A 41-year-old White woman presented to our outpatient clinic with worsening fatigue, body aches, sore throat, ageusia, and anosmia that started 7 days prior to presentation. She had a positive nasopharyngeal COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result, which was performed 6 days prior to presentation. Her medical history was significant for well-controlled psoriasis diagnosed at age 28 and managed with topical steroids and emollients. Moreover, she had hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome, obesity (body mass index [BMI] 37.6) depression, anxiety, and chronic venous insufficiency. Due to her presentation of symptoms for less than 10 days and risk factor including BMI over 35, she was offered bamlanivimab. She agreed to treatment and tolerated infusion without any complications.

The patient was assessed on days 1, 3 and 10 after infusion. She had a noticeable improvement of symptoms on day 1 with almost complete resolution of myalgia, ageusia, and anosmia by day 10 after treatment. No flare-up of psoriasis was noted after bamlanivimab administration.

CASE 2: A PATIENT WITH SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS:

A 63-year-old Hispanic woman presented to our outpatient testing center for a screening nasopharyngeal COVID-19 test prior to an elective upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. She was asymptomatic at the time of testing, but the PCR test was positive. She developed anosmia, ageusia, fatigue, subjective fever, and cough 1 day after testing. One week after onset of symptoms, she was seen at the outpatient clinic for worsening cough and fatigue.

The patient’s medical history included systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) diagnosed at age 48 when she developed malar rash, arthritis, anemia, leukopenia, and positive antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-double stranded DNA antibody (dsDNA). She was initially treated with hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine, and sulfasalazine. At age 49 she experienced a lupus flare with cutaneous vasculitis, which was treated with mycophenolate and prednisone. At the time of her COVID-19 illness, she was being treated with mycophenolate. In addition, she had a history of hypertension, diabetes type II, osteoporosis, and chronic pancreatitis.

Due to her risk factors, comorbidities, and time-frame of symptoms, she was offered treatment with bamlanivimab. The infusion was uneventful and she tolerated it well. She was assessed on days 2, 3, and 6 after treatment. She had a progressive improvement of symptoms and resolution of myalgia and subjective fevers as early as day 2 after infusion. On day 3 she reported improvement of her mood and no more feeling of sadness, and by day 6 she had improvement of anosmia and ageusia. There was no evidence of a lupus flare after bamlanivimab infusion.

CASE 3: A PATIENT WITH SJOGREN SYNDROME AND RAYNAUD DISEASE:

A 71-year-old Hispanic woman presented to our outpatient clinic with fever, cough, diarrhea, and generalized pain for the past 7 days. She had a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test performed 2 days prior to the current presentation. She had a history of Sjogren syndrome diagnosed in 2010 when she presented with sicca symptoms and Raynaud disease. She received conservative symptomatic management for her autoimmune disease. She also had hypertension, obesity, atrial fibrillation treated with ablation, vertigo, dyslipidemia, and multiple past abdominal surgeries for episodes of diverticulitis and peritonitis.

The patient was eligible for monoclonal antibody infusion and she received casirivimab and imdevimab. She tolerated the infusion well. Patient was assessed on days 1 and 4 after treatment and noted to have resolution of fever on day 1. On day 4 after infusion she reported resolution of diarrhea and body aches. She had occasional persistent cough and loss of appetite. She did not experience any exacerbation of her Sjogren syndrome or Raynaud disease symptoms.

CASE 4: A PATIENT WITH PSORIATIC ARTHRITIS: A 65-year-old Hispanic woman presented to our outpatient clinic with worsening myalgia, subjective fever, cough, sore throat, and anosmia for the past 6 days (Table 1). She had a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR test performed 5 days prior to the current visit. She was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis in 2000 and initially treated with methotrexate, and then she underwent multiple biologic therapies including etanercept, adalimumab, apremilast, ustekinumab, secukinumab, and certolizumab, but all were withdrawn due to inadequate response or adverse effects. At the time of her COVID-19 illness she had been using ixekizumab for the past 2 months. She had experienced improvement of her psoriatic arthritis on this, and the last dose was administered 9 days prior to presentation. In addition, she had hypertension, diabetes type II, rosacea, aortic stenosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, multiple strokes, asthma, and fatty liver with advanced fibrosis.

The patient was eligible for anti-COVID-19 monoclonal antibody infusion and she received casirivimab and imdevimab. She tolerated the infusion well, with no adverse effects. She was assessed on days 1 and 7 after treatment and reported improvement of cough on day 1. By day 7, she had partial improvement of anosmia, ageusia, and myalgia. She did not experience any flare of her psoriatic arthritis or skin lesions.

Discussion

The present case series reports our successful experience with use of MAb in the treatment of patients with COVID-19 and underlying rheumatological disorders. Our patients had various rheumatological conditions, including systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, Raynaud disease, Sjogren syndrome, and psoriatic arthritis. At the time of MAT treatment, 2 of our patients were also using concomitant immunosuppressive therapy including topical steroids, myclophenolate, or ixekizumab. All 4 patients tolerated the MAT treatment and had a positive response to the therapy.

While most cases of COVID-19 present with milder flu-like illness, critical cases can rapidly progress to septic shock and multiorgan failure. Proinflammatory cytokines and dysregulated immune response play a central role in this inflammatory cascade of COVID-19 induced severe infection [30]. Similarly, autoimmune conditions are also characterized by the presence of a dysregulated immune system, leading to inflammatory reactions and end-organ damage [31]. Autoantibody production is another key feature of autoimmune disorders and has been shown to occur in COVID-19 patients. Pascolini and colleagues presented data from 33 consecutive patients with COVID-19 and showed the presence of autoantibodies, including antinuclear antibody, anticytoplasmic neutrophil antibodies, and antiphospholipid antibodies in 45% of these patients [32]. Other studies have also reported similar findings in COVID-19 patients [33,34]. These observations suggest similarities between pathogenic pathways of COVID-19 and autoimmune disorders.

Medications that have been used to treat rheumatological condition have been frequently used in COVID-19. Steroids, a cornerstone therapeutic choice in several rheumatological conditions, were among the earliest drugs to show a survival benefit in patients treated for COVID-19 [35]. Tocilizumab, which is an anti-interleukin-6 receptor monoclonal antibody and is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, giant cell arteritis, and systemic sclerosis, has been shown to improve outcomes in patients with COVID-19 [34,35]. Despite the similarities in pathogenesis and disease management, COVID-19 infection in patients with underlying autoimmune conditions poses many challenges. An observational multicenter study of 1641 patients with autoimmune system disorders showed significantly higher prevalence of COVID-19 in these patients compared to the general population [14]. This increased prevalence could be attributed to the susceptibility of the immunocompromised patients to infectious agents. Studies have also reported new onset as well as exacerbation of underlying rheumatologic conditions after COVID-19 infection [15,38]. Possible mechanisms that have been attributed to development of autoimmunity after SARS-CoV-2 infection include molecular mimicry due to cross-reacting epitopes, as well as cytotoxicity due to migration of the virus-specific CD 8+ T-cells into the tissues and viral persistence, leading to viral antigen driven immune injury [38]. These concerns further highlight the importance of treating COVID-19 illness, especially early in the illness.

Bamlanivimab plus etesevimab or casirivimab plus imdevimab are the recombinant MAb that are currently approved by the FDA under emergency use authorization (EUA) [28,29]. This EUA recommends the use of MAT for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients who are at high risk of developing severe infection within 10 days of symptoms onset.

Bamlanivimab targets the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV-2 S protein. Eteseviman binds to an overlapping epitope in RBD of S protein, whereas casirivimab and imdevimab bind to non-overlapping epitopes in RBD of SARS-CoV-2 SP protein [25–27]. In this case series, we share our experience of successful treatment of early, mild COVID-19 illness with COVID-19-specific MAT in patients with underlying rheumatologic conditions and at higher risk for progressing to severe forms of the disease.

Our case series has some limitations. First, we have only presented data on 4 patients, which is a very small sample size. Second, while our case series does report successful outcomes after MAT use in patients with rheumatological conditions, it does not prove the therapy is beneficial, as we did not have a placebo-controlled group. Our study suggests that COVID-19-specific MAT is safe when used in patients with autoimmune disorders, including those already receiving immunosuppressive agents at the time of MAT. In addition, we have not observed any flares of their disease after monoclonal antibodies infusion.

Conclusions

In our case series of patients with underlying rheumatological conditions, we report successful treatment of COVID-19 with MAT. Further studies are recommended to validate our study findings.

References

1. Guan W, Ni Z, Hu Y: Clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease 2019 in China: N Engl J Med, 2020; 382(18); 1708-20

2. Hoffmann M, Kleine-Weber H, Schroeder S: SARS-CoV-2 cell entry depends on ACE2 and TMPRSS2 and is blocked by a clinically proven protease inhibitor: Cell, 2020; 181(2); 271-80e8

3. Li W, Moore MJ, Vasilieva N: Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 is a functional receptor for the SARS coronavirus: Nature, 2003; 426(6965); 450-54

4. Zhou Y, Fu B, Zheng X: Pathogenic T cells and inflammatory monocytes incite inflammatory storm in severe COVID-19 patients: Natl Sci Rev, 2020; 7(6); 998-1002

5. Yuki K, Fujiogi M, Koutsogiannaki S: COVID-19 pathophysiology: A review: Clin Immunol, 2020; 215; 108427

6. Mehta P, McAuley DF, Brown M: COVID-19: Consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression: Lancet, 2020; 395(10229); 1033-34

7. Liu Y, Sawalha AH, Lu Q: COVID-19 and autoimmune diseases: Curr Opin Rheumatol, 2021; 33(2); 155-62

8. Torres-Aguilar H, Sosa-Luis SA, Aguilar-Ruiz SR: Infections as triggers of flares in systemic autoimmune diseases: novel innate immunity mechanisms: Curr Opin Rheumatol, 2019; 31(5); 525-31

9. Zandman-Goddard G, Shoenfeld Y: Infections and SLE: Autoimmunity, 2005; 38(7); 473-85

10. Minozzi S, Bonovas S, Lytras T: Risk of infections using anti-TNF agents in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis: Expert Opin Drug Saf, 2016; 15(Suppl 1); 11-34

11. Herrinton LJ, Liu L, Goldfien R: Risk of serious infection for patients with systemic lupus erythematosus starting glucocorticoids with or without antimalarials: J Rheumatol, 2016; 43(8); 1503-9

12. Williamson EJ, Walker AJ, Bhaskaran K: Factors associated with COVID-19-related death using OpenSAFELY: Nature, 2020; 584(7821); 430-36

13. Kutlu Ö, Metin A: Dermatological diseases presented before COVID-19: Are patients with psoriasis and superficial fungal infections more vulnerable to the COVID-19?: Dermatol Ther, 2020; 33(4); e13509

14. Ferri C, Giuggioli D, Raimondo V: COVID-19 and rheumatic autoimmune systemic diseases: report of a large Italian patients series: Clin Rheumatol, 2020; 39(11); 3195-204

15. Ozaras R, Berk A, Ucar DH: Covid-19 and exacerbation of psoriasis: Dermatol Ther, 2020; 33(4); e13632

16. Fernandez-Ruiz R, Paredes JL, Niewold TB: COVID-19 in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: lessons learned from the inflammatory disease: Transl Res, 2021; 232; 13-36

17. Ning R, Meng S, Tang F: A case of SLE with COVID-19 and multiple infections: Open Med (Wars), 2020; 15(1); 1054-60

18. Gianfrancesco M, Hyrich KL, Al-Adely S: Characteristics associated with hospitalisation for COVID-19 in people with rheumatic disease: Data from the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance physician-reported registry: Ann Rheum Dis, 2020; 79(7); 859-66

19. Horisberger A, Moi L, Ribi C, Comte D: Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on SLE: Beyond the risk of infection: Lupus Sci Med, 2020; 7(1); e000408

20. Stradner MH, Dejaco C, Zwerina J, Fritsch-Stork RD: Rheumatic musculoskeletal diseases and COVID-19 A review of the first 6 months of the pandemic: Front Med (Lausanne), 2020; 7; 562142

21. Galloway JB, Hyrich KL, Mercer LK: Anti-TNF therapy is associated with an increased risk of serious infections in patients with rheumatoid arthritis especially in the first 6 months of treatment: updated results from the British Society for Rheumatology Biologics Register with special emphasis on risks in the elderly: Rheumatology (Oxford), 2011; 50(1); 124-31

22. Favalli EG, Ingegnoli F, De Lucia O: COVID-19 infection and rheumatoid arthritis: Faraway, so close!: Autoimmun Rev, 2020; 19(5); 102523

23. Mahil SK, Dand N, Mason KJ: Factors associated with adverse COVID-19 outcomes in patients with psoriasis – insights from a global registry – based study: J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2021; 147(1); 60-71

24. Megna M, Napolitano M, Patruno C, Fabbrocini G: Biologics for psoriasis in COVID-19 era: What do we know?: Dermatol Ther, 2020; 33(4); e13467

25. Chen P, Nirula A, Heller B: SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibody LY-CoV555 in outpatients with COVID-19: N Engl J Med, 2021; 384(3); 229-37

26. Weinreich DM, Sivapalasingam S, Norton T: REGN-COV2, a neutralizing antibody cocktail, in outpatients with COVID-19: N Engl J Med, 2021; 384(3); 238-51

27. Gottlieb RL, Nirula A, Chen P: Effect of bamlanivimab as monotherapy or in combination with etesevimab on viral load in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19: A randomized clinical trial: JAMA, 2021; 325(7); 632-44

28. Gottlieb RL, Nirula A, Chen P:: Fact sheet for healthcare providers: Emergency use authorization (EUA) of bamlanivimab and etesevimab, 2021

29. Gottlieb RL, Nirula A, Chen P:: Fact sheet for healthcare providers: Emergency use authorization (EUA) of REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab), 2021

30. Wang J, Li Q, Yin Y: Excessive neutrophils and neutrophil extracellular traps in COVID-19: Front Immunol, 2020; 11; 2063

31. Hejrati A, Rafiei A, Soltanshahi M: Innate immune response in systemic autoimmune diseases: A potential target of therapy: Inflammopharmacology, 2020; 28(6); 1421-38

32. Pascolini S, Vannini A, Deleonardi G: COVID-19 and immunological dysregulation: Can autoantibodies be useful?: Clin Transl Sci, 2021; 14(2); 502-8

33. Reyes Gil M, Barouqa M, Szymanski J: Assessment of lupus anticoagulant positivity in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19): JAMA Netw Open, 2020; 3(8); e2017539

34. Amezcua-Guerra LM, Rojas-Velasco G, Brianza-Padilla M: Presence of antiphospholipid antibodies in COVID-19: A case series study: Ann Rheum Dis, 2021; 80(5); e73

35. Horby P, Lim WS, Emberson JR: Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: N Engl J Med, 2021; 384(8); 693-704

36. Salama C, Han J, Yau L: Tocilizumab in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 pneumonia: N Engl J Med, 2021; 384(1); 20-30

37. Salama C, Han J, Yau L: Tocilizumab in patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 (RECOVERY): A randomised, controlled, open-label, platform trial: Lancet, 2021; 397(10285); 1637-45

38. Gracia-Ramos AE, Saavedra-Salinas MÁ: Can the SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger systemic lupus erythematosus? A case-based review: Rheumatol Int, 2021; 41(4); 799-809

SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19

03 December 2021 : Laboratory Research  

Influenza and Influenza-Like Respiratory Virus Infections in Children During the 2019/20 Influenza Season a...

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934862  

08 November 2021 : Database Analysis  

Virtual Screening and Molecular Docking to Study the Mechanism of Chinese Medicines in the Treatment of Cor...

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934102  

01 December 2021 : Editorial  

Editorial: SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Responses and Breakthrough COVID-19

Med Sci Monit 2021; 27:e935624

In Press

06 Dec 2021 : Animal Research  

Astragalus Flavone Induces Proliferation and Differentiation of Neural Stem Cells in a Cerebral Infarction ...

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.933830  

06 Dec 2021 : Clinical Research  

Alteration of Serum Metabolites in Women of Reproductive Age with Chronic Constipation

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934117  

06 Dec 2021 : Clinical Research  

Body Composition Changes and Related Factors in Patients with Ulcerative Colitis: A Retrospective Single-Ce...

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.933942  

03 Dec 2021 : Clinical Research  

A Retrospective Single-Center Study of 23 Patients to Compare Gait Before and After Total Hip Arthroplasty ...

Med Sci Monit In Press; DOI: 10.12659/MSM.934558  

Most Viewed Current Articles

20 Mar 2020 : Clinical Research  

Social Capital and Sleep Quality in Individuals Who Self-Isolated for 14 Days During the Coronavirus Diseas...

DOI :10.12659/MSM.923921

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e923921

15 Apr 2020 : Clinical Research  

Psychological Impact and Coping Strategies of Frontline Medical Staff in Hunan Between January and March 20...

DOI :10.12659/MSM.924171

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e924171

05 May 2020 : Review article  

An Evidence Based Perspective on mRNA-SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Development

DOI :10.12659/MSM.924700

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e924700

26 Apr 2020 : Clinical Research  

Comparison of Prevalence and Associated Factors of Anxiety and Depression Among People Affected by versus P...

DOI :10.12659/MSM.924609

Med Sci Monit 2020; 26:e924609

Your Privacy

We use cookies to ensure the functionality of our website, to personalize content and advertising, to provide social media features, and to analyze our traffic. If you allow us to do so, we also inform our social media, advertising and analysis partners about your use of our website, You can decise for yourself which categories you you want to deny or allow. Please note that based on your settings not all functionalities of the site are available. View our privacy policy.

Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750
Medical Science Monitor eISSN: 1643-3750