National Protect Liver Day: Be aware of liver damage from COVID-19
By Guo Meiping

For most patients, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) begins and ends with the lungs as it's transmitted through the respiratory tract. But lungs are not the only organ that can be attacked by the virus.

Researchers have found that COVID-19 causes varying degrees of liver damage. The latest version of diagnostic and treatment guidelines for COVID-19 published by the National Health Commission of China has also mentioned pathological changes of the liver brought on by the new disease.

Every March 18 marks the National Protect Liver Day in China, and the relationship between COVID-19 and liver damage has been put under the spotlight this year.

Wang Fusheng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his team published a paper titled "Liver injury in COVID-19: management and challenges" on "The Lancet" earlier this month, discussing liver impairment from the new virus.

Based on available case studies and data from The Fifth Medical Center of PLS General Hospital in Beijing, researchers found out that two to 11 percent of patients with COVID-19 had liver issues in addition. Severely ill patients seem to have higher rates of liver dysfunction.

The researchers said in the paper that liver damage in patients with novel coronavirus infections might be directly caused by the viral infection of liver cells.

About two to 10 percent of patients showed symptoms of diarrhea. RNA from COVID-19 has been detected in stool and blood samples. This evidence implicates the possibility of viral exposure in the liver, the paper said.

The use of drugs is also a possible factor of liver impairment. The team also found out that immune-mediated inflammation might also contribute to liver injury or even develop into liver failure in critically ill cases.

In conclusion, the researchers believe that liver damage in mild cases of COVID-19 can return to normal without any special treatment.

(Top image via VCG)