OBJECTIVES: The questions remained if mortality benefits with dexamethasone seen in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) also extend to other systemic corticosteroids such as methylprednisolone. This article presents a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to ascertain if methylprednisolone can be recommended for use in patients with COVID-19 to prevent deaths.
METHODS: Systematic literature search was performed in PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and preprint servers until 13th April 2021. The outcome of interest was all-cause mortality. The random-effects model for the meta-analysis was utilized to estimate the pooled odds ratio (OR) at 95% confidence intervals (CI).
RESULTS: Five RCTs were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled OR for all-cause mortality was 0.64 (95% CI: 0.29 -1.43, n=652) comparing methylprednisolone with the control, indicating no mortality benefits. A similar finding was noted with a sub-group analysis including four trials that used low-dose methylprednisolone. However, the only trial that administered high doses of methylprednisolone indicated a statistically significant mortality benefit (OR 0.08, 95% CI: 0.02-0.42).
CONCLUSIONS: A short duration (3 to 5 days) pulse therapy of high-dose methylprednisolone can be a promising alternative to the low-dose dexamethasone therapy in severely ill patients with COVID-19 to prevent deaths.