Tocilizumab use in Kidney Transplant Patients with COVID-19

Clin Transplant. 2020 Nov;34(11):e14072. doi: 10.1111/ctr.14072. Epub 2020 Sep 27.


A potential benefit of immunomodulatory agents such as tocilizumab (TCZ) has been reported in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and severe pulmonary involvement. However, this therapy has been scarcely studied in kidney transplant (KT) recipients. Herein, we describe the clinical course and outcome of 10 KT patients with severe COVID-19 that were treated with TCZ. Mean age of the study group was 54 ± 10 years (70% females), and 30% of the cases were within 6 months from transplant. Mycophenolate mofetil was discontinued in all cases upon admission, whereas baseline steroids were maintained and tacrolimus dose was reduced. Initial treatment included hydroxychloroquine, antibiotics, and prophylactic anticoagulation. Before treatment with TCZ, 3 patients were receiving high-flow oxygen, 4 patients low-flow oxygen and 1 case non-invasive ventilation. All patients received a single dose of intravenous TCZ within a mean time of 7 ± 4 days since admission. During a median follow-up of 16 days (IQR: 10-29), 7 patients (70%) gradually improved and were finally discharged while three cases (30%) did not exhibited clinical improvement and ultimately died. In conclusion, although treatment with TCZ could be associated with improved clinical outcomes in a subset of KT recipients with COVID-19, further studies are warranted before drawing firm conclusions.

Keywords: coronavirus disease 2019; kidney transplantation; outcomes; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; tocilizumab.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19 / etiology
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Immunologic Factors
  • tocilizumab