Catecholamine physiology and its implications in patients with COVID-19.
The risk factors for severe COVID-19 are diverse, yet closely resemble the clinical manifestations of catecholamine excess states (eg, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, immune dysregulation, and hyperglycaemia), suggesting a potentially common basis for disease. Unfortunately, severe illness (eg, respiratory failure, compromised cardiac function, and shock) incurred by COVID-19 hinders the direct study of catecholamines in these patients, especially among those on multiple medications or those on adrenaline or noradrenaline infusions, or both. Phaeochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) are tumours that secrete catecholamines, namely adrenaline and noradrenaline, often in excess. PPGL are well studied disease processes in which the effects of catecholamines are easily discernible and therefore their potential biochemical and physiological influences in patients with COVID-19 can be explored. Because catecholamines are expected to have a role in patients with critical illness, patients on vasopressor infusions, and patients who sustain some acute and chronic physical stresses, the challenges involved in the management of catecholamine excess states are directly relevant to the treatment of patients with COVID-19. In this Personal View, we discuss the complex interplay between catecholamines and COVID-19, and the management of catecholamine excess states, while referencing relevant insights derived from the study of PPGL.