Since the identification of severe illness caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the role of the host immune system in causing disease has attracted widespread attention, along with intense interest in medical interventions that target the host immune response. A wide variety of agents have been proposed to treat a cytokine storm in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but so far, only one class of medications, corticosteroids, has proved useful. In recent decades, experimental therapies for cytokine storms have been tried and mostly failed to help patients with severe sepsis and other infections. We summarize this history in order to frame expectations for novel interventions in COVID-19 and to bring an evolutionary medicine perspective to the concept of cytokine storms and their treatment.
Recommended CitationAlcock, Joe and Masters, Alix, "Cytokine storms, evolution and COVID-19" (2021). Department of Medicine Faculty Papers. Paper 297.
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