Organ-specific manifestations of COVID-19 infection

Clin Exp Med. 2020 Nov;20(4):493-506. doi: 10.1007/s10238-020-00648-x. Epub 2020 Jul 27.


Although COVID-19 presents primarily as a lower respiratory tract infection transmitted via air droplets, increasing data suggest multiorgan involvement in patients that are infected. This systemic involvement is postulated to be mainly related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus binding on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors located on several different human cells. Lung involvement is the most common serious manifestation of the disease, ranging from asymptomatic disease or mild pneumonia, to severe disease associated with hypoxia, critical disease associated with shock, respiratory failure and multiorgan failure or death. Among patients with COVID-19, underlying cardiovascular comorbidities including hypertension, diabetes and especially cardiovascular disease, has been associated with adverse outcomes, whereas the emergence of cardiovascular complications, including myocardial injury, heart failure and arrhythmias, has been associated with poor survival. Gastrointestinal symptoms are also frequently encountered and may persist for several days. Haematological complications are frequent as well and have been associated with poor prognosis. Furthermore, recent studies have reported that over a third of infected patients develop a broad spectrum of neurological symptoms affecting the central nervous system, peripheral nervous system and skeletal muscles, including anosmia and ageusia. The skin, the kidneys, the liver, the endocrine organs and the eyes are also affected by the systemic COVID-19 disease. Herein, we provide a comprehensive overview of the organ-specific systemic manifestations of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; Cardiovascular; Gastrointestinal; Lungs; Neurological; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / virology
  • Heart / virology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Lung / virology
  • Myocardium / pathology*
  • Nervous System / pathology*
  • Nervous System / virology
  • Pandemics
  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A / metabolism
  • Pneumonia, Viral / pathology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Virus Attachment


  • Peptidyl-Dipeptidase A
  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2