To assess the efficacy of therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) following life-threatening COVID-19.
Open-label, randomized clinical trial of intensive care unit (ICU) patients with life-threatening COVID-19 [positive real-time-polymerase-chain-reaction test, plus acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, organ failure, hyperinflammation]. The study was terminated after 87/120 patients were enrolled.
Standard treatment plus TPE (n = 43) versus standard treatment (n = 44), and stratified by peripheral arterial oxygen saturation/fraction of inspired oxygen (PaO/FiO) ratio (> 150 versus ≤ 150).
Primary outcomes were 35-day mortality and TPE safety. Secondary outcomes were association between TPE and mortality, improvement in Sequential Organ Function Assessment (SOFA) score, change in inflammatory biomarkers, days on mechanical ventilation (MV), and ICU length-of-stay.
Eighty-seven patients [median years of age 49 (IQR: 34-63); 72 males (82.8%)] were randomized [44 to standard care; 43 to standard care plus TPE]. Days on MV (p=0.007) and ICU length-of-stay (p=0.02) were lower in the TPE group versus controls. Thirty-five-day mortality was lower in the TPE group (20.9% vs. 34.1% in controls), but this did not reach statistical significance [Kaplan-Meir analysis: p=0.582). TPE was associated with increased lymphocytes and ADAMTS-13 activity; plus decreased serum lactate, lactate dehydrogenase, ferritin, D-dimers, and interleukin-6. Multivariable regression analysis provided several predictors of 35-day mortality: PaO/FiO ratio [hazard ratio (HR): 0.98, 95% CI: 0.96-1.00, p=0.02], ADAMTS-13 activity (HR: 0.89, 95% CI: 0.82-0.98, p=0.01), and PE (HR: 3.57, 95% CI: 1.43-8.92, p=0.007). Post-hoc analysis revealed a significant reduction in SOFA score for TPE patients (p<0.05) compared to controls.
In critically ill COVID-19 patients the addition of TPE to standard ICU therapy was associated with faster clinical recovery and no increased 35-day mortality.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.