Objective: The novel coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic had intense social and economic effects. Patients infected with COVID-19 may present with a series of conditions. A considerable number of patients express taste and smell disturbances as a prodromal, coexistent, or as the only manifestation of COVID-19 infection. The objective of the present review is to review the hypothetical mechanisms of action and etiopathogenesis of dysgeusia in COVID-19 patients.
Materials and methods: Multiple scientific databases were explored, including PubMed, Medline, Scopus, Cochrane-library, LILACS, Livivo and OpenGrey. All types of articles that discussed the pathogenesis of dysgeusia were included, while articles that described dysgeusia without detail about its mode of action were excluded.
Results: A total of 47 articles, with different designs, were included in this review. These articles suggested direct viral neural invasion to olfactory and gustatory nerves, viral cytotoxicity to taste buds, angiotensin II imbalance, augmented pro-inflammatory cytokines, and disturbances in salivary glands and sialic acid. COVID-19 induced-dysgeusia was also associated with systemic diseases, medications, zinc, chemicals, and disinfectants.
Conclusions: The most likely cause of transient dysgeusia in COVID-19 is peripheral neurotropism and direct toxicity to taste buds or olfactory epithelium. Other factors may also play a contributory role in dysgeusia, such as a defect in the quality and quantity of saliva, pro-inflammatory cytokines, angiotensin II accumulation, systemic diseases, hypozincemia, and excessive use of chemicals.