by Robert Brousseau

Among all the news stories and publications about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, one of the most puzzling and alarming is the appearance of what has been termed the “cytokine storm”.  This refers to the Cytokine Storm Syndrome (CSS), Cytokine Release Syndrome (CRS), or hypercytokinemia.1 The phrase is believed to have first appeared in print in 1993.2-3 Generally, in the case of a viral infection, it is an uncontrollable systemic inflammatory response, and in particular, the release of the cytokines Interleukin-1ß (IL-1ß), IL-2, IL-6, and Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNF-α).  There is an abundance of very recent literature due to its connection with the pandemic. New England Peptide | Peptides International, as a resource, has been collecting and posting coronavirus and COVID-19 literature and news to our Information Station.4 These news articles, grouped by topic, even has a section devoted to the cytokine storm.  One of the best we’ve come across applicable to the disease is a blog post on the CAS website.5 Storm Warning – The Critical Role of Cytokines in Severe COVID-19, takes a detailed look, beginning with a nice concise definition of cytokines, through the all the actions that occur, and possible therapies.

Another compelling article has a personal perspective, historical angle, and viable treatments from a researcher of immune responses and apoptosis.6 His co-authored paper while in lab of Nobel Prize winner Bruce Beulter,7,8 which he references in the article, describes how if this gets out of control, it can quickly turn very deadly.9

The range of interesting articles about this inflammatory response is not just limited to COVID-19 and recent publications.  A very nice, recommended review article, Into the Eye of the Cytokine Storm, stated its aims as: to better define the concept of a cytokine storm, the biological consequences of cytokine overproduction, also looked at the cytokine storm through the lens of genomics.3

Finally, there are two other general overviews that are useful introductions, Discovered: Metabolic Mechanism of Cytokine Storms, and What is a Cytokine Storm?  The latter also has a listing of the various ways CSS can occur.10,11

There are many, many more articles available on our resource page, and the amount of incoming literature on this and all the other aspects of COVID-19 is voluminous.  The Information Station will strive to keep you updated and would be happy to add any applicable items you may come across as well.


A complete listing of cytokines that Vivitide offers is available.

The COVID-19 Information Station.


  2. J.L. Ferrara, S. Abhyankar, DG. Gilliland, Cytokine Storm of Graft-Versus-Host Disease: A Critical Effector Role for Interleukin-1; Transplant. Proc., 25, 1216 (1993).