We propose a new hypothesis that the established drug pentoxifylline deserves attention as a potential repurposed therapeutic for COVID-19. Pentoxifylline is an immunomodulator with anti-inflammatory properties. It is a nonselective phosphodiesterase inhibitor and through Adenosine A2A Receptor-mediated pathways reduces tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 1, interleukin 6, and interferon gamma and may act to reduce tissue damage during the cytokine storm host response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. This agent has been used clinically for many years and has a favorable profile of safety and tolerability. Pre-clinical data support pentoxifylline as effective in cytokine-driven lung damage. Clinical studies of pentoxifylline in radiation and cytokine-induced lung damage in humans are positive and consistent with anti-inflammatory efficacy. Pentoxifylline is a readily available, off-patent and inexpensive drug, suitable for large-scale use including in resource-limited countries. Current trials of therapeutics are largely focused on the inhibition of viral processes. We advocate urgent randomized trials of pentoxifylline for COVID-19 as a complementary approach to target the host responses.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; cytokine; immunomodulation; pentoxifylline; pneumonia; viral.
© 2020 The Authors. Pharmacology Research & Perspectives published by British Pharmacological Society and American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.