The added value of pirfenidone to fight inflammation and fibrotic state induced by SARS-CoV-2 : Anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic therapy could solve the lung complications of the infection?

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2020 Nov;76(11):1615-1618. doi: 10.1007/s00228-020-02947-4. Epub 2020 Jun 27.


Aim: SARS-CoV-2 infection has been divided by scientific opinion into three phases: the first as asymptomatic or slightly symptomatic and the second and the third with greater severity, characterized by a hyperinflammatory and fibrotic state, responsible for lung lesions, in some cases fatal. The development of antiviral drugs directed against SARS-CoV-2 and effective vaccines is progressing; meanwhile, the best pharmacological objective is related to the management of all the complications caused by this viral infection, mainly controlling the inflammatory and fibrotic state and preventing the infection from moving into the most serious phases.

Subject and method: Describe the scientific rationale related to the use of an antifibrotic therapy with pirfenidone, as monotherapy and/or in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs to manage and control complications of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Results: Based on the scientific literature and epidemiological results and considering the pathophysiological, biological, and molecular characteristics of SARS-CoV-2, an antifibrotic drug such as pirfenidone as monotherapy or in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs can be (acting early, at the right doses and at the right time) therapeutically effective to avoid serious complications during viral infection. The same approach can also be effective as postinfection therapy in patients with residual pulmonary fibrotic damage. Management of inflammation and fibrotic status with a combination therapy of pirfenidone and IL-6 or IL-1 inhibitors could represent a pharmacological synergy with added value.

Conclusion: In this article, we consider the role of antifibrotic therapy with pirfenidone in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection on going or in the stage of postinfection with pulmonary fibrotic consequences. The scientific rationale for its use is also described.

Keywords: Cytokine; Fibrotic; Inflammation; Interleukin; Pirfenidone; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / complications*
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-6 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / complications*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / drug therapy*
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis / etiology*
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Pyridones
  • pirfenidone