Gut Microbiota and COVID-19: Potential Implications for Disease Severity

Pathogens. 2022 Sep 15;11(9):1050. doi: 10.3390/pathogens11091050.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic resulted in an unprecedented global crisis. SARS-CoV-2 primarily causes lung infection trough the binding of the virus with the ACE-2 cell receptor located on the surface of the alveolar epithelial cells. Notably, ACE-2 cell receptors are also expressed in the epithelial cells of the intestinal tract (GI). Recent data showed that the microbial communities of the GI might act as local and systematic inflammatory modulators. Gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea, are frequently observed in infected individuals, and recent released data indicate that SARS-CoV-2 may also spread by fecal-oral transmission. Moreover, the gut microbiota's ecosystem can regulate and be regulated by invading pathogens, including viruses, facilitating an effective immune response, which in turn results in less severe diseases. In this regard, increased SARS-CoV-2 mortality and morbidities appear to be frequently observed in elderly immunocompromised patients and in people with essential health problems, such as diabetes, who, indeed, tend to have a less diverse gut microbiota (dysbiosis). Therefore, it is important to understand how the interaction between the gut microbiota and SARS-CoV-2 might shape the intensity of the infection and different clinical outcomes. Here, we provide insights into the current knowledge of dysbiosis during SARS-CoV-2 infection and methods that may be used to re-establish a more correct microbiota composition.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; gastrointestinal symptom; microbiome; nutrition.

Publication types

  • Review

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.