The study is currently available on the prepress server medRxiv *, where hepatic steatosis (which includes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) has been well associated with obesity, advanced metabolic disease, as well as overt and chronic inflammatory process.
Bearing in mind that the pathophysiology of COVID-19 is closely related to inflammation, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis may also present significant risk factors that put patients with the disease at greater risk for poor disease outcomes; However, research on this (and potential mitigating agents) has been scarce.
For this reason, researchers from the University of Minnesota, the University of Miami and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in America sought to evaluate the risks of hospitalization for Covid-19 virus associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis.
This study represents the first in-depth assessment of hepatic steatosis as a risk factor for hospitalization for COVID-19, by analyzing an extensive database in the United States, as well as possible treatments to avoid this scenario.
A retrospective analysis of electronic medical records was performed from 56 primary care clinics and 12 hospitals. More specifically, more than 6,700 adults with positive -CoV-2 test results were included between March 1, 2020, and August 25, 2020.
The primary objective was to accurately quantify the hospitalization risk for COVID-19 based on the history of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and steatohepatitis. Furthermore, the researchers also wanted to know how known treatments for metabolic disease modulate this risk, as well as whether there were any gender or ethnic differences.
In summary, this study showed that the medical history of hepatic steatosis was associated with an increased likelihood of hospitalization due to COVID-19, and each additional year of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis was associated with a significant increase in the risk of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Of course, more research is needed to verify these results. However, patients with high BMI can already be screened for hepatic steatosis and informed of all the risks associated with visceral obesity and COVID-19, in addition to the above-mentioned opportunities for mitigation.