Gastrointestinal and Liver Manifestations of COVID-19

J Clin Exp Hepatol. May-Jun 2020;10(3):263-265. doi: 10.1016/j.jceh.2020.03.001. Epub 2020 Apr 1.

Abstract

The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV,-2 has continued to progress, and increasing information is becoming available about the incidence of digestive symptoms as well as abnormal liver-associated enzymes in patients who are infected. These are postulated to be related to the virus's use of ACE-2 receptors located on certain intestinal cells, cholangiocytes, and hepatocytes. This brief review summarizes the available limited data on digestive manifestations of COVID-19. A significant proportion of COVID-19 patients can present initially with only digestive complaints. The most common digestive symptoms are anorexia, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Liver-related transaminases are elevated in a substantial proportion of patients, although generally only mildly elevated. Currently there is no firm evidence to suggest that severity of digestive symptoms corresponds to severity of COVID-19 clinical course, however, more severe alterations in liver enzymes may correlate with worse clinical course. Given use of antiviral and antibacterial agents in sicker patients, drug-induced liver injury cannot be ruled out either in these cases. Although viral RNA can be detected in stool, it is unclear whether fecal-oral transmission can be achieved by the virus. As further data becomes available, our understanding of the digestive manifestations of COVID-19 will continue to evolve.

Publication types

  • Review