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Therapeutic blockade of inflammation in severe COVID-19 infection with intravenous N-acetylcysteine

Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency facilitates human coronavirus infection due to glutathione depletion. G6PD deficiency may especially predispose to hemolysis upon coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) infection when employing pro-oxidant therapy. However, glutathione depletion is reversible by N-acetylcysteine (NAC) administration. We describe a severe case of COVID-19 infection in a G6PD-deficient patient treated with hydroxychloroquine who benefited from intravenous (IV) NAC beyond reversal of hemolysis. NAC blocked hemolysis and elevation of liver enzymes, C-reactive protein (CRP), and ferritin and allowed removal from respirator and veno-venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenator and full recovery of the G6PD-deficient patient. NAC was also administered to 9 additional respirator-dependent COVID-19-infected patients without G6PD deficiency. NAC elicited clinical improvement and markedly reduced CRP in all patients and ferritin in 9/10 patients. NAC mechanism of action may involve the blockade of viral infection and the ensuing cytokine storm that warrant follow-up confirmatory studies in the setting of controlled clinical trials. Keywords: Coronavirus 19, COVID-19, N-acetylcysteine, Glutathione, Glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase, Mechanistic target of rapamycin, C-reactive protein, Ferritin, Respirator, Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation