Gastrointestinal involvement attenuates COVID-19 severity and mortality
Alexandra E Livanos,
Ana S. Gonzalez-Reiche,
Tommaso L. Parigi,
Steven T. Chen,
Huaibin M Ko,
Benjamin S Glicksberg,
Girish N Nadkarni,
Graham J Britton,
Matthew P Spindler,
Jeremiah J Faith,
Adeeb H Rahman,
Nikhil A. Kumta,
Harm van Bakel,
Posted 09 Sep 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.09.07.20187666
Posted 09 Sep 2020
Given that gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are a prominent extrapulmonary manifestation of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we investigated intestinal infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its effect on disease pathogenesis. SARS-CoV-2 was detected in small intestinal enterocytes by immunofluorescence staining or electron microscopy, in 13 of 15 patients studied. High dimensional analyses of GI tissues revealed low levels of inflammation in general, including active downregulation of key inflammatory genes such as IFNG, CXCL8, CXCL2 and IL1B and reduced frequencies of proinflammatory dendritic cell subsets. To evaluate the clinical significance of these findings, examination of two large, independent cohorts of hospitalized patients in the United States and Europe revealed a significant reduction in disease severity and mortality that was independent of gender, age, and examined co-morbid illnesses. The observed mortality reduction in COVID-19 patients with GI symptoms was associated with reduced levels of key inflammatory proteins including IL-6, CXCL8, IL-17A and CCL28 in circulation but was not associated with significant differences in nasopharyngeal viral loads. These data draw attention to organ-level heterogeneity in disease pathogenesis and highlight the role of the GI tract in attenuating SARS-CoV-2-associated inflammation with related mortality benefit. One Sentence SummaryIntestinal infection with SARS-CoV-2 is associated with a mild inflammatory response and improved clinical outcomes.
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