COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Resource Center

Issue: February 2021
Perspective from Brian B. Baggott, MD, FACG
Disclosures: This study was supported by the Health and Medical Research Fund, the Food and Health Bureau, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (COVID190111), and donations from Hui Hoy & Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Pine and Crane Company Limited, Mr. Hui Ming and The D.H. Chen Foundation.
January 11, 2021
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Gut microbiome composition impacts severity of COVID-19

Issue: February 2021
Perspective from Brian B. Baggott, MD, FACG
Disclosures: This study was supported by the Health and Medical Research Fund, the Food and Health Bureau, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (COVID190111), and donations from Hui Hoy & Chow Sin Lan Charity Fund Limited, Pine and Crane Company Limited, Mr. Hui Ming and The D.H. Chen Foundation.
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Correlation between gut microbiota composition, cytokine levels and inflammatory markers among COVID-19 patients demonstrated the gut microbiome is linked with the severity of COVID-19, according to a study in Gut.

“[This] survey of gut microbiota alterations in association with immune dysregulation revealed that gut microorganisms are likely involved in the modulation of host inflammatory responses in COVID-19,” Yun Kit Yeoh, MD, from the department of microbiology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong and colleagues wrote. “With mounting evidence that gut microorganisms are linked with inflammatory diseases within and beyond the gut, these findings underscore an urgent need to understand the specific roles of gut microorganisms in human immune function and systemic inflammation.”

Source: Adobe Stock.
The gut microbiome is linked with the severity of COVID-19.
Source: Adobe Stock.

In a two-cohort study, Yeoh and colleagues obtained blood, stool and patient records from 100 patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2, investigators collected serial stool samples from 27 out of the 100 patients. Shotgun sequencing total DNA extracted from stools was used to characterize gut microbiome compositions. Plasma was used to measure concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers.

Results showed gut microbiome changed among patients with COVID-19 vs. individuals without COVID-19 regardless of whether patients received medication (P < .01).

“Several gut commensals with known immunomodulatory potential such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale and bifidobacteria were underrepresented in patients and remained low in samples collected up to 30 days after disease resolution,” Yeoh and colleagues wrote.

According to researchers, this demonstrated stratification with disease severity consistent with elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers including C reactive protein, lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase.

“The dysbiotic gut microbiota that persists after disease resolution could be a factor in developing persistent symptoms and/or multisystem inflammation syndromes that occur in some patients after clearing the virus,” the authors wrote.