New data supports development of colchicine for the prevention of acute respiratory distress syndrome

December 7, 2020

This syndrome can develop in patients with COVID-19 if the virus enters the respiratory tract and damages the lungs

The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) has announced that colchicine, a widely available low-cost drug, reduces acute lung injury (ALI), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and respiratory failure in pre-clinical models1. The article reporting these results was published yesterday by the Public Library of Science ONE (PLOS ONE) 1.

“This study was designed and executed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as there were no effective therapies at that time to prevent SARS-CoV-2 related lung injury and ARDS,” said Dr. Jean-Claude Tardif, Director of the MHI Research Center, Professor of Medicine at the University of Montreal, COLCORONA Principal Investigator and co-principal lead author of the study published in PLOS ONE. “In the context of COVID-19, there is an urgent need for effective therapies that can reduce intensive care unit admissions, mechanical ventilation and death, which is the reason why we initiated the international COLCORONA study to evaluate colchicine in treating at-home patients with COVID-19.”

ARDS results from direct or indirect acute lung injury (ALI) leading to intense inflammation with fluid in the lungs resulting in respiratory failure. Currently, there are no effective pharmacologic therapies for ARDS. The preclinical data in this peer-reviewed publication show that colchicine reduced the area of lung injury by 61%, reduced lung edema, and markedly improved oxygenation1.

“While there is a strong rationale to test colchicine in COVID-19, until today there was little pre-clinical data supporting its potential efficacy in ARDS,” added Dr. Jocelyn Dupuis, Cardiologist at MHI, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, and co-principal lead author of the study. “Colchicine may also be effective for other causes of ARDS, which is responsible for 10% of intensive care units admissions and 24% of mechanically ventilated patients prior to COVID-19.”

This pre-clinical proof-of-concept study was designed to evaluate colchicine’s efficacy in a recognized model of acute lung injury and dysregulated inflammation leading to ARDS. The design, study conduct and analysis were completed in record time with the contribution of four research teams of the Montreal Heart Institute under the co-leaderships of Dr Jocelyn Dupuis and Dr Jean-Claude Tardif.

The full clinical trial manuscript can be found at