"Cytokine storm", not only in COVID-19 patients. Mini-review

Immunol Lett. 2020 Dec;228:38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.imlet.2020.09.007. Epub 2020 Sep 29.


Cytokine storm is a form of uncontrolled systemic inflammatory reaction activated by a variety of factors and leading to a harmful homeostatic process, even to patient's death. Triggers that start the reaction are infection, systemic diseases and rarely anaphylaxis. Cytokine storm is frequently mentioned in connection to medical interventions such as transplantation or administration of drugs. Presented mini-review would like to show current possibilities how to fight or even stop such a life-threatening, immune-mediated process in order to save lives, not only in COVID-19 patients. Early identification of rising state and multilevel course of treatment is imperative. The most widely used molecule for systemic treatment remains tocilizumab. Except for anti IL-6 treatment, contemporary research opens the possibilities for combination of pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical and adjunctive treatment in a successful fight with consequences of cytokine storm. Further work is needed to discover the exact signaling pathways that lead to cytokine storm and to determine how these effector molecules and/or combination of processes can help to resolve this frequently fatal episode of inflammation. It is a huge need for all scientists and clinicians to establish a physiological rational for new therapeutic targets that might lead to more personalized medicine approaches.

Keywords: Cytokine release syndrome; Cytokine storm; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / therapy*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / etiology*
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / immunology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / pathology
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Inflammation
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • tocilizumab