Gastrointestinal problems brought on by SARS-CoV-2
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The sudden and fast outbreak of the extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) prompted the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which has claimed greater than 6.3 million lives worldwide as of June 7, 2022. Due to the excessive charge of genomic mutation, a number of SARS-CoV-2 variants have emerged, which have been categorized as variants of concern (VOC) and variants of curiosity (VOI). 

Researchers have reported that SARS-CoV-2 impacts many organs together with the lungs, abdomen, and coronary heart of contaminated sufferers. In a latest Viruses evaluation article, scientists talk about the gastrointestinal (GI) problems related to COVID-19.

Study: Gastrointestinal Involvement in SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Image Credit: Kateryna Kon /

SARS-CoV-2 an infection and GI problems

Several research have reported that SARS-CoV-2 primarily targets the lung cells, which causes vital respiratory problems. Interestingly, many research have additionally reported the presence of SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA) within the stool samples of contaminated sufferers, thus confirming the shedding of SARS-CoV-2 in feces.

Some of the widespread GI problems related to COVID-19 embrace vomiting, anorexia, nausea, and diarrhea. SARS-CoV-2 an infection with GI signs would possibly lead to acute an infection with a poor prognosis.

GI imaging in COVID-19 sufferers has offered proof of a thickening of the bowel wall, mesenteric thickening, fluid-filled massive bowels, hyperemia, pneumatosis, and ischemia on uncommon events. Previous research have additionally reported that diarrhea brought on by SARS-CoV-2 an infection is perhaps as a consequence of malfunctioning of intestinal ion transporters that trigger irritation and numerous GI problems.

Importantly, COVID-19 sufferers affected by GI signs are sometimes extra more likely to develop extreme respiratory misery. Scientists have speculated that inflammatory cytokines might be the potential connection within the SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis between the respiratory and digestive methods.

Gastrointestinal-lung axis in COVID-19. ACE2, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2.

Moreover, sufferers with acute COVID-19 expertise extra stomach ache than sufferers with delicate signs. However, not a lot distinction has been reported with reference to lack of urge for food, vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea signs reported in each teams of sufferers.

Patients affected by thromboembolic occasions and GI system problems similar to mesenteric ischemia are at a excessive danger of mortality. Additionally, the extent of transaminase in COVID-19 sufferers is often very excessive, which leads to intestinal ischemia and elevates the chance of intestinal obstruction.

Previous research have additionally indicated that SARS-CoV-2 virions can enter the GI tract by way of the esophagus. Furthermore, detection of SARS-CoV-2 within the stool of the contaminated sufferers implies that the virus has been transmitted by way of the fecal-oral route. Taken collectively, endoscopic sampling of a COVID-19 affected person’s GI tract has revealed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within the abdomen, esophagus, rectum, and duodenum. The SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid (N) protein 2 has additionally been detected within the cytoplasm of rectal glandular epithelial cells and duodenal cells.

SARS-CoV-2 and the intestine microbiome

The presence of viruses within the GI tract influences the hosts well being, because the virus interacts with the mucus layers, lamina propria immune cells, and epithelial cells. Furthermore, alterations within the intestine virome can have a big affect on the immunophenotype.

The intestine microbiome is wealthy in helpful micro organism which are chargeable for sustaining intestinal homeostasis, suppressing extreme mucosal irritation, and facilitating the event of immune responses at mucosal surfaces. Taken collectively, the intestine microbiota consists of roughly 100 trillion microorganisms and hundreds of bacterial species.

Adaptive and innate immune cells are triggered by the disruption of intestine barrier integrity. Additionally, the discharge of pro-inflammatory cytokines into circulation can result in systemic irritation. Thus, the entry of inflammatory cells like neutrophils and lymphocytes into the intestinal mucosa could cause extreme disruption of the intestine microbiota.

A change within the composition of the intestine microbiome, i.e., a rise in Campylobacter, Parabacteria, BacteroidesBifidobacteriumClostridiumRuminococci, Rotella, Corynebacterium PseudomonasEnterococcus, and Aspergillus, and a substantial discount in EubacteriumFaecalibacteriumLachnospira, and Firmicutes, influences COVID-19 outcomes. One earlier research has indicated that alterations within the composition and performance of the intestine microbiome have an effect on the respiratory tract through the widespread mucosal immune system. Respiratory dysbiosis additionally influences the digestive tract by way of immune regulation.     

SARS-CoV-2 elicits early neutralizing antibody responses together with a peripheral growth of immunoglobulin A (IgA) plasmablasts with mucosal homing potential, systemic IgA, and systemic IgG. One earlier research has reported that the gut-lung axis performs an vital function in controlling COVID-19.

Another research revealed that cytokines may enter the lungs by way of the bloodstream when the gut is infected. This situation considerably impacts pulmonary immune responses and irritation.

An enhance in circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines may additionally affect the composition of the intestine microbiome which, in flip, may improve intestinal permeability. This could trigger translocation of pathogens and toxins and, consequently, improve illness severity and result in a number of organ failures.

An altered intestine microbiome and epithelial irritation may additionally improve the expression of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor within the intestine, which is primarily utilized by SARS-CoV-2 to achieve entry into cells.

Taken collectively, the precise underlying mechanisms related to widespread GI signs and COVID-19 stay largely unknown.


Some COVID-19 sufferers endure from GI signs; nonetheless, these off-target signs in SARS-CoV-2 contaminated sufferers are sometimes uncared for. In the long run, GI signs and adjustments within the intestine microbiota of COVID-19 sufferers have to be studied, as concentrating on these tissues is perhaps efficient in controlling the an infection.

Journal reference:

  • Chen, H. T., Hsu, M., Lee, M., et al. (2022) Gastrointestinal Involvement in SARS-CoV-2 Infection. Viruses 14(6). doi:10.3390/v14061188.

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