COVID-19 infection and rheumatoid arthritis: Faraway, so close!

Autoimmun Rev. 2020 May;19(5):102523. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2020.102523. Epub 2020 Mar 20.


The outbreak of the new coronavirus infections COVID-19 in December 2019 in China has quickly become a global health emergency. Given the lack of specific anti-viral therapies, the current management of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2) is mainly supportive, even though several compounds are now under investigation for the treatment of this life-threatening disease. COVID-19 pandemic is certainly conditioning the treatment strategy of a complex disorder as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), whose infectious risk is increased compared to the general population because of an overall impairment of immune system typical of autoimmune diseases combined with the iatrogenic effect generated by corticosteroids and immunosuppressive drugs. However, the increasing knowledge about the pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection is leading to consider some anti-rheumatic drugs as potential treatment options for the management of COVID-19. In this review we will critically analyse the evidences on either positive or negative effect of drugs commonly used to treat RA in this particular scenario, in order to optimize the current approach to RA patients.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; Cytokine release syndrome; DMARDs; Rheumatoid arthritis; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / virology
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment
  • China
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antirheumatic Agents