Interleukin-1 blockade with anakinra in acute leukaemia patients with severe COVID-19 pneumonia appears safe and may result in clinical improvement

Br J Haematol. 2020 Jul;190(2):e80-e83. doi: 10.1111/bjh.16873. Epub 2020 Jun 10.


As of 17th May, 2020 the number of patients infected by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID‐19) worldwide has exceeded 4.5 million (WHO 2020). A subgroup of patients with COVID‐19 pneumonia develop a hyperinflammatory syndrome which has a similar cytokine release profile to secondary haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) (Huang, et al 2020). Immunomodulatory drugs are hypothesised to abrogate the dysfunctional immune response in hyperinflammatory COVID‐19 and are currently being investigated in clinical trials. IL‐1 blockage with anakinra has been shown to be safe and is associated with clinical improvement in patients with hyperinflammatory COVID‐19 (Cavalli, et al 2020).

Keywords: acute leukaemia; haemophagocytic syndrome; immunotherapy; infection.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / therapeutic use*
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Leukemia / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • Interleukin-1