Gastrointestinal symptoms and digestive comorbidities in an Italian cohort of patients with COVID-19

A. Papa, M. Covino, F. Pizzolante, L. Miele, L. R. Lopetuso, V. Bove, R. Iorio, B. Simeoni, L. M. Vetrone, L. Tricoli, I. Mignini, T. Schepis, A. D'Alessandro, G. Coppola, T. Nicoletti, E. Visconti, G. Rapaccini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic mainly involves respiratory symptoms, though gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are increasingly being recognized. In this context, the presence of comorbidities appears to be associated with adverse outcomes. However, the role of digestive manifestations is not yet well defined. The primary aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of GI symptoms and digestive comorbidities in a cohort of patients with COVID-19 compared to controls. The secondary aim was to determine the association of GI-symptoms and digestive comorbidities with clinical outcomes. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Inpatients with COVID-19 and controls with similar symptoms and/or radiological findings were enrolled. Symptoms at admission and throughout hospitalization were collected as they were comorbidities. The measured clinical outcomes were mortality, intensive care unit admission and cumulative endpoint. RESULTS: A total of 105 patients were included: 34 with COVID-19 and 71 controls. At admission, the prevalence of GI symptoms among COVID-19 patients was 8.8%. During hospitalization, the frequency of GI symptoms was higher in patients with COVID-19 than in controls (p=0.004). Among patients with COVID-19, the mortality and a cumulative endpoint rates of those with GI symptoms were both lower than for those without GI symptoms (p=0.016 and p=0.000, respectively). Finally, we found digestive comorbidities to be associated with a milder course of COVID-19 (p=0.039 for cumulative endpoint). CONCLUSIONS: Our results highlighted the non-negligible frequency of GI symptoms in patients with COVID-19, partly attributable to the therapies implemented. In addition, the presence of GI symptoms and digestive comorbidities is associated with better outcomes. Most likely, digestive comorbidities do not hinder the host's immune response against SARS-COV-2, and the occurrence of GI symptoms might be linked to a faster reduction of the viral load via the faecal route.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7506-7511
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Covid-19
  • Diarrhoea
  • Digestive comorbidities
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Sars-cov-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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