Tocilizumab for severe COVID-19 in solid organ transplant recipients: a matched cohort study

Am J Transplant. 2020 Nov;20(11):3198-3205. doi: 10.1111/ajt.16314. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


The safety and efficacy of tocilizumab for the treatment of severe respiratory symptoms due to COVID-19 remain uncertain, in particular among solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients. Thus, we evaluated the clinical characteristics and outcomes of 29 hospitalized SOT recipients who received tocilizumab for severe COVID-19, compared to a matched control group who did not. Among a total of 117 total SOT recipients hospitalized with COVID-19, 29 (24.8%) received tocilizumab. The 90-day mortality was significantly higher among patients who received tocilizumab (41%) compared to those who did not (20%, P = .03). When compared to control patients matched by age, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and administration of high dose corticosteroids, there was no significant difference in mortality (41% vs 28%, P = .27), hospital discharge (52% vs 72%, P = .26), or secondary infections (34% vs 24%, P = .55). Among patients who received tocilizumab, there was also no difference in mortality based on the level of oxygen support (intubated vs not intubated) at the time of tocilizumab initiation. In this matched cohort study, tocilizumab appeared to be safe but was not associated with decreased 90-day mortality. Larger randomized studies are needed to identify whether there are subsets of SOT recipients who may benefit from tocilizumab for treatment of COVID-19.

Keywords: clinical research/practice; complication: infectious; immune regulation; immunosuppression/immune modulation; infectious disease.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Transplant Recipients*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • tocilizumab