Background and aims: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) leads to elevated liver biochemistries in approximately half of patients on presentation. To date, data are limited regarding the trend of liver biochemistries over the course of illness. We aimed to evaluate the trend, etiology, and outcomes associated with liver biochemistries in COVID-19.
Approach and results: A total of 60 patients with COVID-19 were admitted between March 21 and March 28, 2020. The mean age was 57 years, 65% were male, and 28% were Hispanic. At the study conclusion, 6 patients were deceased, 28 were discharged, and 26 remained admitted. Patients who remained admitted were followed for a median of 12 days. Of 60 patients, 41 (69%) had at least one abnormal liver biochemistry on admission. Median aspartate aminotransferase (AST) was higher than alanine aminotransferase (ALT) at admission (46 vs. 30 U/L) and during the hospital course. Aminotransferases rose above normal in 54 (93%) patients, whereas alkaline phosphatase and total bilirubin elevations were rare. Ten (17%) patients developed aminotransferases more than 5 times the upper limit of normal. AST highly correlated with ALT throughout the illness course (r = 0.97; P < 0.0001), whereas correlations with markers of muscle injury and inflammation were weak. Statin use was common before (40%) and during admission (80%) at our center, with no difference in peak liver biochemistries between users and nonusers. No demographic or comorbid illness was associated with liver injury. Admission AST (69 vs. 49; P < 0.05), peak AST (364 vs. 77; P = 0.003), and peak ALT (220 vs. 52; P = 0.002) were higher in intubated patients.
Conclusions: AST-dominant aminotransferase elevation is common in COVID-19, mirrors disease severity, and appears to reflect true hepatic injury.
© 2020 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.