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 First Author: Jia Li 

Journal/preprint name: Research Square 

Tags: COVID-19, Cytokines, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 


  • Measuring serum cytokines post ICU admission in 40 COVID-19 patients 

  • Retrospectively compared survivor vs non-survivor cytokine profiles, showed serum IL-6 and TNF-α higher in patients who died in ICU.  

  • IL-6 has been proposed as COVID-19 biomarkers by several studies, but antagonistic IL-6 treatments have not shown definitive success in improving COVID-19 patient outcome. 

  • IL-10 generally considered anti-inflammatory but has been noted to be higher in sepsis patients, proposed the increase might be an attempt to moderate the immune response. 

  • This study provides useful information as to cytokine profile changes throughout COVID-19 disease. 

Research Highlights 

  1. Various pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines were measured over samples taken from 40 ICU patients over 14 day (or more) period. 

  1. Timepoints were 1-3 days, 4-7 days, 8-13 days and 14 days onwards post ICU admission 

  1. Survivor and non-survivor profiles were compared retrospectively. 

  1. Serum IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α was higher in severe cases where patients died. 

  1. IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10 were significantly associated with patient outcome despite the confounding variables e.g. age, gender, neutrophil count. 

Impact for COVID-19 research:  

Could benefit disease management, looks at cytokine profile over time so could help identify high risk cases. 


  • Study Type: Retrospective cohort study 


  • Only measured cytokines post-ICU admission, do not know if profiles differed before admission. 

  • Limited sample size, and some patients were missing particular clinical measures e.g. neutrophil counts. 

  •  Survival was only measured during ICU, no follow up on patients who were discharged from ICU to see if they died later.