What’s the evidence that REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) monoclonal antibody cocktail is effective in the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19?

The U.S. FDA has issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the emergency use of REGEN-COV in adult and pediatric populations (≥12 years of age and older weighing> 40 kg) who are at high risk* of progression to severe COVID-19— including hospitalization or death— and who are not fully vaccinated or are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to the vaccine (eg, immunocompromised state).1  This recommendation is based on a randomized controlled trial involving individuals enrolled within 96 hours of exposure to a known Covid-19 case (Covid-10 Phase 3 Prevention Trial).2

In this trial, the primary efficacy end point was the development of symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection through day 28  in participants who did not have SARS-CoV-2 infection  by PCR or serology at the time of enrollment. Symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection developed in 1.5% of treatment group (vs 7.8% in placebo group) with 81.4% relative risk reduction (P<0.001); 66% reduction was observed when symptomatic and asymptomatic infections were combined.  Duration of symptoms and the magnitude and duration of detectable RNA were also lower in the REGEN-COV group compared to placebo. Therapy was well tolerated.2

In the same study, in a subgroup analysis of those who were seropositive at the time of enrollment REGEN-COV lowered the risk of symptomatic disease (0.4% vs 2.3% in the placebo group) with relative risk reduction of 81%, though not statistically significant (P=0.14).  This may be why the FDA EUA extended to certain vaccinated groups as well since to date there are no published trials on the use of REGEN-COV as post-exposure prophylaxis in vaccinated individuals.

*High risk group included ≥65 years of age, BMI≥25 kg/m2, diabetes, immunocompromised state, cardiovascular disease or hypertension, chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease and neurodevelopment disorders.

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References

  1. Fact sheet for health care providers emergency use authorization (EUA) of REGEN-COV. https://www.fda.gov/media/145611/download. Accessed September 15, 2021.
  2. O’Brien MP. Forleo-Neto E, Musser BJ et al. Subcutaneous REGEN-COV antibody combination to prevent Covid-19. N Engl J Med 2021, August 4, 2021. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2109682

 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate academic healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

What’s the evidence that REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) monoclonal antibody cocktail is effective in the post-exposure prophylaxis of Covid-19?

Does my patient testing positive for hepatitis A IgM really have acute hepatitis A infection even though he is completely asymptomatic?

Not necessarily! A positive hepatitis A (HA) IgM in a patient without any symptoms could indicate a few different things: 1. Asymptomatic infection; 2. Prior HA infection with prolonged IgM presence; 3. False positive results due to cross-reacting antibodies; and 4. Commercial kits with a falsely low cutoff value.1

A 2013 retrospective study found that of patients testing positive for HA IgM antibody, only 11% could be confirmed to have acute HA infection; 57% had recent and/or resolved hepatitis and 29% had reasons to have elevated hepatic enzymes other than HA infection, at least some likely to be false-positive.1

Other viral illnesses and autoimmune conditions have been associated with false positive HA-IgM.1-3  One case report described a patient with malaise, fever, jaundice, and elevated liver enzymes who tested positive for HA-IgM but ultimately was found to be infected with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)2. In another case report, a patient was described as having a drug-induced liver injury in the setting of infliximab usage. False positive Hep A IgM was suspected to be due to a polyclonal B-cell autoimmune-mediated response stimulated by the infliximab.3

So, even a positive HA-IgM should always be interpreted in the context of the patient’s history and likelihood of active HA infection based on epidemiological factors.1

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that modes of transmission of HA include person-to-person via saliva or sex, consuming raw/undercooked shellfish, or drinking contaminated drinking water?4

Contributed by Joseph Kinsella, Medical Student, A.T. Still Osteopathic Medical School,  Kirksville, Missouri

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References

  1. Alatoom A., Ansari M. Q, Cuthbert J. (2013). Multiple factors contribute to positive results for hepatitis a virus immunoglobulin M antibody. Arch Pathol Lab Med 2013;137:90–95. https://doi.org/10.5858/arpa.2011-0693-oa
  2. Valota M, Thienemann F, Misselwitz B. False-positive serologies for acute hepatitis A and autoimmune hepatitis in a patient with acute Epstein–Barr virus infection. BMJ Case Reports CP 2019;12: e228356.
  3. Tennant E, Post JJ. Production of false-positive immunoglobulin m antibodies to hepatitis a virus in autoimmune events. J Infect Dis 2016;213: 324–325. https://doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiv417
  4. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, August 28). Hepatitis A. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hepatitis-a/symptoms-causes/syc-20367007.

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Does my patient testing positive for hepatitis A IgM really have acute hepatitis A infection even though he is completely asymptomatic?

Should patients previously immunized against Covid-19 receive selected monoclonal antibodies when diagnosed with a breakthrough infection?

Although published studies supporting monoclonal antibody therapy in mild to moderate Covid-19 preceded availability of Covid-19 vaccines and the emergence of new variants of concern,1,2 given the possibility of severe breakthrough Covid-19 in high risk vaccinated patients with suboptimal immunity and the retained activity of certain monoclonal antibody products (ie, casirivimab and imdevimab-Regeneron-Cov and sotrovimab) against common variants of SARS-CoV-2 , their use is recommended even in vaccinated individuals with mild to moderate Covid-19.3-5

In fact, the CDC states that “For people who have received one or more doses of Covid-19 vaccine and subsequently experience SARS-CoV-2 infection, prior receipt of a Covid-19 vaccine should not affect treatment decisions (including use of monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, antiviral treatment, or corticosteroid administration) or timing of such treatment.”3

In its July 30, 2021 Emergency Authorization Use (EUA) letter regarding use of casirivimab and imdevimab – REGEN-COV), the FDA does not distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals for its indications,4 similar to those of guidelines posted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH.5-6

When indicated, high risk vaccinated individuals with Covid-19 should be offered  an FDA approved (under EUA currently) monoclonal antibody product (such as  casirivimab and imdevimab antibody cocktail or sotrovimab) soon after diagnosis and certainly no later than 10 days.

Vaccinated individuals with mild to moderate Covid-19 not requiring hospitalization and for whom monoclonal antibody treatment may be indicated include older patients and those with risk factors for severe disease, such as obesity, pregnancy, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease (including COPD), immunocompromised state, serious heart conditions (eg, heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies), sickle cell disease and type 2 diabetes.7

Of note, casirivimab and imdevimab is indicated for adults (weighing at least 40 kg) and children 12 years or older and is administered by IV infusion or subcutaneously, if IV infusion is not feasible and would lead to delay in treatment.4

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that in phase III trials, casirivimab and imdevimab  antibody cocktail reduced hospitalization or death by 70% in non-hospitalized patients with Covid-19?2

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References

  1. Interim clinical considerations for use of Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States. 2021. Available at https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/covid-19/info-by-product/clinical-considerations.html. Accessed August 22, 2021.
  2. March 23, 2021 https://www.roche.com/media/releases/med-cor-2021-03-23.htm
  3. Dougan M, Nirula A, Azizad M, et al. Bamlanivimab plus Etesevimab in mild or moderate Covid-19. N Engl J Med, July 14, 2021. https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2102685
  4. Letter, EUA REGEN-COV, July 30, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/media/145610/download
  5. Department of Health and Human Services. High risk Covid-19 outpatients may avoid hospitalization with monoclonal antibody treatment. July 16, 2021. https://combatcovid.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/High-Risk-COVID-19-Outpatients-072021.pdf
  6. Anti-SARS Cov-2 monoclonal antibodies. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/therapies/anti-sars-cov-2-antibody-products/anti-sars-cov-2-monoclonal-antibodies/
  7. Science brief: evidence used to update the list of underlying medical conditions that increase a person’s risk of severe illness from Covid-19. Accessed August 22, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/underlying-evidence-table.html

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Should patients previously immunized against Covid-19 receive selected monoclonal antibodies when diagnosed with a breakthrough infection?

What’s the evidence that immunocompromised patients need a 3rd booster mRNA Covid vaccine shot?

At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation for a booster shot of an mRNA vaccine in patients with moderate to severe immunocompromised state (1,2) is based primarily on the concern for waning immunity following the initial series—including a decline in neutralizing antibodies— in this patient population, and the finding that at least some immunocompromised patients may have a significant improvement in certain laboratory measurements of immunity following their booster shot. 

Although there are no randomized-controlled trials of the efficacy of the 3rd shot in protecting against Covid-19 in immunocompromised patients, the recent surge in the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants in many parts of the world (including the U.S.)  as well as immunocompromised patient population accounting for nearly one-half of all breakthrough Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalization (1) make it urgent to adopt these recommendations. 

A randomized trial involving 120 solid organ transplant patients (median age 67 y) found higher neutralizing antibody levels and SARS CoV-2 specific T-cell counts after the mRNA-1273 (Moderna) vaccine booster dose compared to placebo (3).

In another study involving 101 solid organ transplant patients, of 59 subjects who were seronegative before the 3rd dose, 44% became seropositive 4 weeks after the 3rd vaccine dose ( BNT162b2-Pfizer vaccine administered 2 months after the second dose). Patients who did not have an antibody response were older, had higher degree of immunosuppression and had a lower estimated glomerular filtration rate than those with antibody response (4).

A “spectacular increase” in anti-spike antibodies with levels close to the general population has also been reported among hemodialysis patients receiving a third dose of Pfizer mRNA vaccine (5). 

Until further data from larger studies become available,  these studies support administration of a 3rd dose booster mRNA vaccine in moderate to severely immunosuppressed individuals.

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that although immunocompromised patients have significantly worse influenza outcome, the data on the impact of immunocompromised status on the outcome of Covid-19 is less clear with published evidence that both supports and refutes this association (6)?  

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References

  1. CDC. Data and clinical considerations for additional doses in immunocompromised people: ACIP Meeting, July 22, 2021. ACIP Data and Clinical Considerations for Additional Doses in Immunocompromised People (cdc.gov)
  2. CDC. Interim clinical considerations for use of Covid-19 vaccines currently authorized in the United States. August 13, 2021. Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines | CDC
  3. Hall VG, Ferreira VH, Ku T, et al. Randomized trial of a third dose of mRNA-1273 vaccine recipients. N Engl J Med 2021, Aug 11. Randomized Trial of a Third Dose of mRNA-1273 Vaccine in Transplant Recipients | NEJM
  4. Kamar N, Abravanel F, Marion O. Three doses of an mRNA Covid-19 vaccine in solid-organ transplant recipient. N Engl J Med 2021, Aug 12.Three Doses of an mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine in Solid-Organ Transplant Recipients | NEJM
  5. Frantzen L, Thibeaut S, Moussi-Frances J, et al. Covid-19 vaccination in haemodialysis patients: Good things come in threes… Neph Dial Transplant, 20 July 2023. COVID-19 Vaccination in Haemodialysis Patients: Good things come in threes… – PubMed (nih.gov)
  6. Parisi C. An opportunity to better understand the impact of coronavirus on immunocompromised patients. J Infect Dis 2021;224:372-3. Opportunity to Better Understand the Impact of Coronaviruses on Immunocompromised Patients | The Journal of Infectious Diseases | Oxford Academic (oup.com)

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University, their affiliate healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

What’s the evidence that immunocompromised patients need a 3rd booster mRNA Covid vaccine shot?

Is there a connection between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and hypokalemia?

Although we don’t usually think of UTIs being associated with electrolyte abnormalities, there seems to be a connection between UTI—particularly pyelonephritis—and hypokalemia in adults, possibly related to the impairment of renal potassium resorption due to tubular injury.1

A 2020 study of over 80,000 hospitalized patient found a significantly higher rate of hypokalemia (10%) in patients with UTI (identified based on ICD9 codes) vs non-UTI patients (4%, O.R. 2.3, 95% C.I. 2.2-2.4). This association was independent of patients’ comorbidities and medications. Among patients with UTI, recurrent UTI was associated with hypokalemia (O.R. 1.1, 95% C.I. 1.1-1.2). Unfortunately, no attempt was made to distinguish cystitis from pyelonephritis. The authors reported that in “several patients”, the urinary potassium secretion was increased.  

The association between pyelonephritis and hypokalemia was first reported back in the 1950s and was initially referred to as “potassium losing nephropathy”. 2 It turns out that some of these cases might have had underlying primary hyperaldosteronism (Conn’s) and perhaps pyelonephritis unmasked this condition.  Later, cases of urinary potassium wasting with probable pyelonephritis in the absence of excessive aldosterone excretion were also reported, with resolution of potassium wasting with treatment of the infection in some instances.3,4  

So it looks like the association between pyelonephritis and hypokalemia may be real! Next time you see hypokalemia in a patient with pyelonephritis, don’t be surprised! The corollary: watch for hypokalemia in your patient with pyelonephritis!

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that prevention of potassium loss with spironolactone treatment in pyelonephritis has been reported, suggesting a possible role for aldosterone despite lack of hyperaldosteronism.3

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References

  1. Shen AL, Lin HL, Lin HC, et al. Urinary tract infection is associated with hypokalemia: a case control study. BMC Urology 2020;20:108. Urinary tract infection is associated with hypokalemia: a case control study | BMC Urology | Full Text (biomedcentral.com)
  2. Eastham RD, McElligott M. Potassium-losing pyelonephritis. BMJ 1956; :898-89. Potassium-losing pyelonephritis. – Abstract – Europe PMC
  3. Gerstein AR, Franklin SS, Kleeman CR, et al. Potassium losing pyelonephritis:response to spironolactone. Arch Intern Med 1969;123:55-57. Potassium Losing Pyelonephritis: Response to Spironolactone | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
  4. Jones NF, Cantab MB, Mills IH, et al. Reversible renal potassium loss with urinary tract infection. Am J Med 1964;37:305-310. REVERSIBLE RENAL POTASSIUM LOSS WITH URINARY TRACT INFECTION – PubMed (nih.gov)

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy-St. Louis, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University,their affiliate healthcare centers, or its contributors. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

 

Is there a connection between urinary tract infections (UTIs) and hypokalemia?

What’s the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccination in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) treated with high-efficacy disease-modifying therapies?

The answer appears to be dependent on which high-efficacy disease-modifying agent is being used to treat MS.  Limited data suggest that cladribine treatment does not impair humoral response to Covid-19 vaccine in patients with MS, while ocrelizumab and fingolimod have a major negative impact on vaccine responsiveness based on humoral antibody measurements.1

A study involving 125 Covid-19 MS vaccine (mRNA, Pfizer BNT162b2) recipients  (58% females, 61% relapse-remitting, 19% primary-progressive, 14% secondary-progressive, 3% clinically isolated syndrome and 2% radiologically isolated syndrome), found high levels of SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike IgG in all subjects (n=23) receiving cladribine as early as 4.4 months from last treatment dose.1

In contrast only 4% of patients with MS treated with fingolimod had a post-vaccination humoral response (time-interval from last treatment dose to vaccination not reported).  Similarly, most patients under treatment with ocrelizumab failed to develop a post-vaccination humoral response, with only 23% demonstrating a protective antibody titer (time-interval from last treatment dose 3.1-8.9 months).

These results may not be totally surprising given the attenuated humoral response to several common vaccines in patients with MS treated with ocrelizumab or fingolimod.2,3

Given the potential suboptimal response to Covid-19 vaccine in patients with MS treated with fingolimod or ocrelizumab, until further data become available, it’s fair to state that patients treated with these agents should NOT depend on vaccination to protect them from Covid-19 and that they may need to still take extra precautions during the pandemic.   

 

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that fingolimod prevents lymphocyte egression from secondary lymphoid tissue and ocrelizumab is an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody that depletes B lymphocytes?1

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Reference

  1. Achiron A, Mandel M, Dreyer-Alster S, et al. Humoral immune response to COVID-19 mRNA vaccine in patients with multiple sclerosis treated with high-efficacy disease-modifying therapies. Therapeutic Adances in Neurological Disorders 2021;14:1-8. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/17562864211012835
  2. Bar-Or A, Calkwood JC, Chognot C, et al. Effect of ocrelizumab on vaccine responses in patients with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2020; 95:e1999-22008. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32727835/
  3. Kappos L, Mehling M, Arroyo R, et al. Randomized trial of vaccination in fingolimod-treated patients with multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2015;84:872-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25636714/  

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

What’s the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccination in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) treated with high-efficacy disease-modifying therapies?

Why is the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 increasingly becoming a “variant of concern” in the current Covid-19 pandemic?

The Delta variant (B.1.617.2, formerly India variant) has become an increasingly prevalent strain of SARS-Cov-2 causing Covid-19 in many countries outside of India, including the United States and United Kingdom, particularly affecting younger unvaccinated persons.  Several features of the Delta variant are of particular concern. 1-7

  1. Delta virus appears to be more transmissible when compared to previously emerged variant viruses. Data from new Public Health England (PHE) research suggests that the Delta variant is associated with a 64% increased risk of household transmission compared with the Alpha variant (B.,1.1.7, UK variant) and 40% more transmissibility in outdoors. 1,8  
  2. Delta virus is also associated with a higher rate of severe disease, doubling the risk of hospitalization based on preliminary data from Scotland. In vitro, it replicates more efficiently than the Alpha variant with higher respiratory viral loads.5
  3. Delta virus may also be associated with reduced vaccine effectiveness with increased vaccine breakthroughs. One study found that Delta variant is 6.8-fold more resistant to neutralization by sera from Covid-19 convalescent and mRNA vaccinated individuals.5 Fortunately, a pre-print study released by PHE in May 2021 found that 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were still 88% effective against symptomatic infection with Delta variant  (vs 93% for the Alpha variant) and 96% effective against hospitalization; 1 dose was only 33% effective against symptomatic disease (vs 50% for the Alpha variant).  Two doses of Astra Zeneca vaccine were 60% effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant.8 
  4. Aside from its somewhat unique epidemiologic features, Covid-19 caused by Delta variant seems to be behaving differently (starting out as a “bad cold” or “off feeling”), with top symptoms of headache, followed by runny nose and sore throat with less frequent fever and cough; loss of sense of smell was not common at all based on reported data to date.1

What the Delta variant reminds us is, again, the importance of vaccination, masks and social distancing. The pandemic is still with us!

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that, on average, a Delta variant-infected person may transmit it to 6 other contacts (Ro~6.0) compared to 3 others (Ro~3) for the original SARS-CoV-2 strains found during the early part of the pandemic?1

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References

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/health-57467051
  2. Knodell R. Health Advisory: Emergence of Delta variant of coronavirus causing Covid-19 in USA. Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. 23 June, 2021. https://health.mo.gov/emergencies/ert/alertsadvisories/pdf/update62321.pdf
  3. Kupferschmidt K, Wadman M. Delta variant triggers new phase in the pandemic. Science 25 June 2021; 372:1375-76. https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/372/6549/1375.full.pdf
  4. Sheikh A, McMenamin J, Taylor B, et al. SARS-CoV-2 Delta VOC in Scotland: demographics, risk of hospital admission, and vaccine effectiveness. Lancet 2021; 397:2461-2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8201647/
  5. Mlcochova P, Kemp S, Dhar MS, et al. Sars-Cov-2 B.1.617.2 Delta variant emergence and vaccine breakthrough. In Review Nature portfolio, posted 22 June, 2021. https://www.researchsquare.com/article/rs-637724/v1
  6. Bernal JL, Andrews N, Gower C, et al. Effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines against the B.1.617.2 variant. MedRxiv, posted May 24, 2021. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.05.22.21257658v1 vaccine efficacy
  7. Allen H, Vusirikala A, Flannagan J, et al. Increased household transmission of Covid-19 cases associatd with SARS-Cov-2 variant of concern B.1.617.2: a national case control study. Public Health England. 2021. https://khub.net/documents/135939561/405676950/Increased+Household+Transmission+of+COVID-19+Cases+-+national+case+study.pdf/7f7764fb-ecb0-da31-77b3-b1a8ef7be9aa  Accessed June 27, 2021.
  8. Callaway E. Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact. Nature. 22 June 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01696-3 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author.

Why is the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 increasingly becoming a “variant of concern” in the current Covid-19 pandemic?

My patient with Covid-19 and abdominal pain has an elevated lipase. Is there a connection between Covid-19 and acute pancreatitis?

Acute pancreatitis as a complication of Covid-19 is infrequent.1 Despite reports of elevated amylase/lipase and/or acute pancreatitis in some patients with Covid-19,2 the exact role that SARS-CoV-2 plays in causing acute pancreatitis is unclear at this time.

A retrospective study of over 11,000 hospitalized patients with Covid-19 in the U.S. found a point prevalence of acute pancreatitis of only 0.27%,3 while another retrospective study of Covid-19 patients seen in Spanish emergency rooms reported acute pancreatitis in only 0.07% of cases.4 Of interest, in the latter study, Covid-19 was associated with lower frequency of acute pancreatitis. Further adding to the controversy on the causative role of Covid-19 is lack of an observed increase in the incidence of acute pancreatitis during Covid-19 pandemic. 1

An earlier study from China reported mild elevation (<3x upper limits of normal) of amylase and/or lipase in 17% of patients with Covid-19 pneumonia, none of whom had abdominal pain. 5

The temporal relationship between Covid-19 and acute pancreatitis has varied from abdominal symptoms at the onset of Covid-19 symptoms to days after diagnosis of Covid-19? 1

Despite these disparate findings, Covid-19 related acute pancreatitis or pancreatic injury is plausible. Pancreatic ductal, acinar and islet cells express ACE2, an important receptor for SARS-CoV-2.1 Infection in the GI tract (virus can easily be found in the stool) may potentially spread from the duodenal epithelium to the pancreatic duct and the pancreatic parenchyma itself. Immune-mediated inflammatory response or endotheliitis caused by SARS-CoV-2 may also potentially explain reports of pancreatic injury in Covid-19. 1,2

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that SARS-CoV-2 has been found in pancreatic tissue of some patients who succumbed to Covid-19 and has been shown to infect human pancreatic beta cells in-vitro.6  Perhaps we should be on the lookout for diabetes as a consequence of Covid-19 as well!

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 References

  1. De-Madaria E, Capurso G. Covid-19 and acute pancreatitis: examining the causality. Nature Reviews Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021;18: 3-4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41575-020-00389-y
  2. Kandasamy S. An unusual presentation of Covid-19: acute pancreatitis. Ann Hepatobiliary Pancreat Surg 2020;24:539-41. https://synapse.koreamed.org/upload/SynapseXML/2110ahbps/pdf/AHBPS-24-539.pdf
  3. Inamdar S, Benias PC, Liu Y, et al. Prevalence, risk factors, and outcomes of hospitalized patients with coronavirus disease 2019 presenting as acute pancreatitis. Gastroenterol 2020;159:2226-28. https://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(20)35115-5/pdf
  4. Miro O, Llorens P, Jimenez S, et al. Frequency of five unusual presentations in patients with Covid-19: results of the UMC-19-S. Epidemiol Infect 2020;148:e189. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32843127/
  5. Wang F, Wang H, Fan J, et al. Pancreatic injury patterns in patients with coronavirus disease 19 pneumonia. Gastroenterology 2020;159:367-70. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7118654/
  6. Wu C-T, Lidsky PV, Xiao Y, et al. SARS-CoV-2 infects human pancreatic beta cells and elicits beta cell impairment. Cell Metab 2021 May 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8130512/

 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

My patient with Covid-19 and abdominal pain has an elevated lipase. Is there a connection between Covid-19 and acute pancreatitis?

The urine culture of my female patient with urgency is growing Lactobacillus spp.  Should I treat it?

Lactobacillus spp. isolated from urine generally do not require treatment because these organisms are often part of the normal bacterial flora of the genitourinary (GU) and gastrointestinal tracts, are generally of low virulence, are rarely associated with urinary tract infections (UTIs) and may in fact have potential benefits in preventing UTIs. 1-4

In a study involving female urinary microbiome, subjects with urgency urinary incontinence were less likely to have Lactobacillus spp. based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing of transurethral catheter urine than those without symptoms, suggestive of possible protective role of this organism in female GU tract.1

Reports of Lactobacillus UTI are rare but one particular species, Lactobacillus delbrueckii, has been implicated in several case reports involving primarily elderly women.3,4

Vaginal colonization with lactobacilli provides a natural, nonspecific defense mechanism against infection in part by production of lactic acid and lowering of the regional pH which, when combined with hydrogen peroxide production by commensal anaerobes, interferes with colonization of the vaginal mucosal surfaces by potential pathogens. Lactobacilli also interfere with the adherence of pathogens by production of biosurfactants.3

It’s no surprise that lactobacilli are often considered “friendly bugs” and used in many probiotic preparations as well.5

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that contrary to the current dogma, urine is not sterile when tested by more sensitive enhanced urine culture or gene sequencing techniques?  Even in asymptomatic people, it may contain several organisms, including Lactobacillus, Gardnerella, Streptococcus, Staphylococcus (not aureus) and Corynebacterium? 2

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References

  1. Pearce MM, Hilt EE, Rosenfeld AM, et al. The female urinary microbiome: a comparison of women with and without urgency urinary incontinence. mBio 2014;5:e01283-14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25006228/
  2. Thomas-White K, Forster SC, Kumar N, et al. Culturing of female bladder bacteria reveals an interconnected urogenital microbiota. Nature Communications 2018;9:1557. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03968-5.pdf (urine not sterile, bladder with lactobacillus prevention, normal asymptomatic
  3. Darbro BW, Petroelje BK, Doern GV. Lactobacillus delbureckii as the cause of urinary tract infection. J Clin Microbiol 2009;47:275-277. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2620876/#:~:text=Urinary%20tract%20infections%20caused%20by,a%20setting%20of%20ureteral%20obstruction.
  4. Maillet F, Passeron A, Podglajen I, et al. Lactobacillus delbrueckii urinary tract infection in a male patient. Med Mal Infect 2019;49:225-230. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0399077X1830787X?via%3Dihub
  5. Reid G. The scientific basis for probiotic strains of Lactobacillus. App Env Microbiol 1999;65:3763-3766. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC99697/ 

 

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

The urine culture of my female patient with urgency is growing Lactobacillus spp.  Should I treat it?

Can Covid-19 exacerbate seizures in patients with epilepsy?

There have been several reports of seizure exacerbation in epileptic patients after Covid-19 infection. Seizure exacerbations have been observed in epileptic patients with uncontrolled epilepsy, as well as patients who were previously controlled with antiepileptic drugs (AEDs).1,2

In a survey of 362 epileptic patients in Wuhan, China, the site of the initial outbreak, 31 (8.6%) patients reported an increased number of seizures in the month after the public lockdown began; 16 (51.6%) of the 31 patients with seizure exacerbation had prior exposure to Covid-19.1

In a study of 439 patients with Covid-19 infection in Egypt, 19 (4.3%) patients presented with acute seizures.2  Two of the 19 seizure patients had a previous diagnosis of epilepsy, which had been controlled for up to 2 years. Interestingly, the other 17 patients had new onset seizures without a previous epilepsy diagnosis.

Covid-19 has been proposed to induce seizures by eliciting inflammatory cytokines in the central nervous system, leading to neuronal necrosis and increased glutamate levels in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus.3

Covid-19 infection may have also indirectly caused seizure exacerbations in a number of epileptic patients. Interestingly, stress related to worrying about the effect of the outbreak on a patient’s seizure activity was associated with seizure exacerbations (odds ratio: 2.5, 95% CI: 1.1-6.1)2. It is also possible that some seizure exacerbations may have been due to fear of visiting the hospital and AED withdrawal, as was demonstrated during the 2003 SARS outbreak.4

Bonus Pearl: Did you know that Guillain–Barré Syndrome has also been observed in patients with Covid-19 infection?5

Contributed by Luke Vest, Medical Student, St. Louis University Medical School

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References:

  1. Huang, S., Wu, C., Jia, Y., et al. (2020). COVID-19 outbreak: The impact of stress on seizures in patients with epilepsy. Epilepsia, 61(9), 1884-1893. https://doi.org/10.1111/epi.16635  
  2. Khedr, E. M., Shoyb, A., Mohammaden, M., & Saber, M. (2021). Acute symptomatic seizures and COVID-19: Hospital-based study. Epilepsy Res, 174, 106650. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2021.106650
  1. Nikbakht, F., Mohammadkhanizadeh, A., & Mohammadi, E. (2020). How does the COVID-19 cause seizure and epilepsy in patients? The potential mechanisms. Multiple sclerosis and related disorders, 46, 102535. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2020.102535
  2. Lai, S. L., Hsu, M. T., & Chen, S. S. (2005). The impact of SARS on epilepsy: the experience of drug withdrawal in epileptic patients. Seizure, 14(8), 557–561. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.seizure.2005.08.010
  3.  Abu-Rumeileh, S., Abdelhak, A., Foschi, M., Tumani, H., & Otto, M. (2021). Guillain-Barré syndrome spectrum associated with COVID-19: an up-to-date systematic review of 73 cases. Journal of neurology, 268(4), 1133–1170. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00415-020-10124-x   

Disclosures: The listed questions and answers are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of Mercy Hospital-St. Louis or its affiliate healthcare centers, Mass General Hospital, Harvard Medical School or its affiliated institutions, or St. Louis University Medical School. Although every effort has been made to provide accurate information, the author is far from being perfect. The reader is urged to verify the content of the material with other sources as deemed appropriate and exercise clinical judgment in the interpretation and application of the information provided herein. No responsibility for an adverse outcome or guarantees for a favorable clinical result is assumed by the author. Thank you!

Can Covid-19 exacerbate seizures in patients with epilepsy?