Implications of SARS-CoV-2 infection for neurogastroenterology

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with gastrointestinal and hepatic manifestation in up to one fifth of patients. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the etiologic agent of COVID-19, infects gastrointestinal epithelial cells expressing angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors triggering a cascade of events leading to mucosal and systemic inflammation. Symptomatic patients display changes in gut microbiota composition and function which may contribute to intestinal barrier dysfunction and immune activation. Evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 infection and related mucosal inflammation impact on the function of the enteric nervous system and the activation of sensory fibers conveying information to the central nervous system, which, may at least in part, contribute symptom generation such as vomiting and diarrhea described in COVID-19. Liver and pancreas dysfunctions have also been described as non-respiratory complications of COVID-19 and add further emphasis to the common view of SARS-CoV-2 infection as a systemic disease with multiorgan involvement. Purpose: The aim of this review was to highlight the current knowledge on the pathophysiology of gastrointestinal SARS-CoV-2 infection, including the crosstalk with the gut microbiota, the fecal-oral route of virus transmission, and the potential interaction of the virus with the enteric nervous system. We also review the current available data on gastrointestinal and liver manifestations, management, and outcomes of patients with COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14104
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • ACE2
  • COVID-19
  • diarrhea
  • enteric nervous system
  • gastrointestinal
  • gut microbiota
  • pandemic
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology


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