Background: Lymphopenic patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) have shown high mortality rates. Corticosteroids have immunomodulatory properties and regulate cytokine storm in CAP. However, it is not known whether their modulatory effect on cytokine secretion differs in lymphopenic and non-lymphopenic patients with CAP. Therefore, we aimed to test whether the presence of lymphopenia may modify the response to corticosteroids (mainly in C reactive protein (CRP)) in patients with severe CAP and high inflammatory status). Methods: A post hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial  (NCT00908713) which evaluated the effect of corticosteroids in patients with severe CAP and high inflammatory response (CRP > 15 mg/dL). Patients were clustered according to the presence of lymphopenia (lymphocyte count below 1000 cell/mm3). Results: At day 1, 35 patients (59%) in the placebo group presented with lymphopenia, compared to 44 patients (73%) in the corticosteroid group. The adjusted mean changes from day 1 showed an increase of 1.19 natural logarithm (ln) cell/mm3 in the corticosteroid group and an increase of 0.67 ln cell/mm3 in the placebo group (LS mean difference of the changes in ln (methylprednisolone minus placebo) 0.51, 95%CI (0.02 to 1.01), p = 0.043). A significant effect was also found for the interaction (p = 0.043) between corticosteroids and lymphopenia in CRP values at day 3, with lower values in patients without lymphopenia receiving corticosteroids after adjustments for potential confounders. Conclusion: In this exploratory post hoc analysis from ramdomized controlled trial (RCT) data, the response to corticosteroids, measured by CRP, may differ according to lymphocyte count. Further larger studies are needed to confirm this data.
Nota bibliográficaPublisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.