Early Antiandrogen Therapy With Dutasteride Reduces Viral Shedding, Inflammatory Responses, and Time-to-Remission in Males With COVID-19: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Interventional Trial (EAT-DUTA AndroCoV Trial - Biochemical)

Cureus. 2021 Feb 1;13(2):e13047. doi: 10.7759/cureus.13047.


Background and objective Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) cell entry and subsequent infectivity are mediated by androgens and the androgen receptors through the regulation of transmembrane protease, serine 2 (TMPRSS2). Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) predisposes males to severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) disease, while the use of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors (5ARis) and androgen receptor antagonists reduce COVID-19 disease severity. In this study, we aimed to determine the potential benefit of dutasteride, a commonly used broad and potent 5ARi, as a treatment for COVID-19. Design, setting, and participants The study was conducted at outpatient clinics. Subjects presented to the clinics with a positive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken within 24 hours of recruitment. All subjects presented with mild to moderate symptoms. Interventions Subjects were given either dutasteride 0.5 mg/day or placebo for 30 days or until full COVID-19 remission. All subjects received standard therapy with nitazoxanide 500 mg twice a day for six days and azithromycin 500 mg/day for five days. Main outcome(s) and measure(s) The main outcome(s) and measure(s) were as follows: time to remission, oxygen saturation (%), positivity rates of RT-PCR-SARS-CoV-2, and biochemical analysis [ultrasensitive C-reactive protein (usCRP), D-dimer, lactate, lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), ultrasensitive troponin, and ferritin]. Results Subjects taking dutasteride (n=43) demonstrated reduced fatigue, anosmia, and overall disease duration compared to subjects taking a placebo (n=44) (p<.0001 for all). Compared to the placebo group, on Day seven, subjects taking dutasteride had a higher virologic remission rate (64.3% versus 11.8%; p=.0094), higher clinical recovery rate (84.7% versus 57.5%; p=.03), higher mean [standard deviation: SD] oxygen saturation (97.0% [1.4%] versus 95.7% [2.0%]; p=.02), lower median [Interquartile range: IQR] usCRP (0.34 mg/L [0.23 mg/L-0.66 mg/L] versus 1.47 mg/L [0.70 mg/L-3.37 mg/L]; p<.0001), lower median [IQR] lactate (2.01 mmol/L [1.12 mmol/L-2.43 mmol/L] versus 2.66 mmol/L [2.05 mmol/L-3.55 mmol/L]; p=.0049), lower median [IQR] ESR (5.0 mm/1h [3.0 mm/1h-11.0 mm/1h] versus 14.0 mm/1h [7.25 mm/1h-18.5 mm/1h]; p=.0007), lower median [IQR] LDH (165 U/L [144 U/L-198 U/L] versus 210 U/L [179 U/L-249 U/L]; p=.0013) and lower median [IQR] troponin levels (0.005 ng/mL [0.003 ng/mL-0.009 ng/mL] versus 0.007 ng/mL [0.006 ng/mL-0.010 ng/mL]; p=.048). Conclusions and relevance The findings from this study suggest that in males with mild COVID-19 symptoms undergoing early therapy with nitazoxanide and azithromycin, treatment with dutasteride reduces viral shedding and inflammatory markers compared to males treated with a placebo.

Keywords: azithromycin; covid-19; dutasteride; nitazoxanide; sars-cov-2.