Fibrinolytic therapy for refractory COVID-19 acute respiratory distress syndrome: Scientific rationale and review

Christopher D. Barrett, Hunter B. Moore, Ernest E. Moore, Robert C. McIntyre, Peter K. Moore, John Burke, Fei Hua, Joshua Apgar, Daniel S. Talmor, Angela Sauaia, Deborah R. Liptzin, Livia A. Veress, Michael B. Yaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused respiratory failure and associated mortality in numbers that have overwhelmed global health systems. Thrombotic coagulopathy is present in nearly three quarters of patients with COVID-19 admitted to the intensive care unit, and both the clinical picture and pathologic findings are consistent with microvascular occlusive phenomena being a major contributor to their unique form of respiratory failure. Numerous studies are ongoing focusing on anticytokine therapies, antibiotics, and antiviral agents, but none to date have focused on treating the underlying thrombotic coagulopathy in an effort to improve respiratory failure in COVID-19. There are animal data and a previous human trial demonstrating a survival advantage with fibrinolytic therapy to treat acute respiratory distress syndrome. Here, we review the extant and emerging literature on the relationship between thrombotic coagulopathy and pulmonary failure in the context of COVID-19 and present the scientific rationale for consideration of targeting the coagulation and fibrinolytic systems to improve pulmonary function in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-531
Number of pages8
JournalResearch and Practice in Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • fibrinolysis
  • pulmonary failure
  • tissue plasminogen activator


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