04 December 2020

"Cytokine storm" explained

This year marks 10 years since the first description of a cytokine storm that developed after chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy and 27 years since the term was first used in the literature to describe the engraftment syndrome of acute graft-versus-host disease after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation. The term “cytokine release syndrome” was coined to describe a similar syndrome after infusion of muromonab-CD3 (OKT3). Cytokine storm and cytokine release syndrome are life-threatening systemic inflammatory syndromes involving elevated levels of circulating cytokines and immune-cell hyperactivation that can be triggered by various therapies, pathogens, cancers, autoimmune conditions, and monogenic disorders... 

In this review, we propose a unifying definition of cytokine storm; discuss the pathophysiological features, clinical presentation, and management of the syndrome; and provide an overview of iatrogenic, pathogen-induced, neoplasia-induced, and monogenic causes. Our goal is to provide physicians with a conceptual framework, a unifying definition, and essential staging, assessment, and therapeutic tools to manage cytokine storm.
For those who, like me, have fallen behind in reading, this New England Journal of Medicine review article is comprehensive (I believe all the coronavirus-related articles are available outside the firewall).


  1. With covid, it's a bradykinin storm. https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/is-a-bradykinin-storm-brewing-in-covid-19--67876

    1. Interesting. I hadn't heard any news about bradykinin in years. Thank you.


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