Prevailing patterns of liver enzymes in patients with COVID-19 infection and association with clinical outcomes

Authors Sujani Yadlapati, Kevin Brayn Lo, Robert DeJoy, Fahad Gul, Eric Peterson, Ruchika Bhargav, Grace Faith Salacup, Jerald Pelayo, Zurab Azmaiparashvilli, Gabriel Patarroyo-Aponte.


Background COVID-19 is now a critical threat to global public health. Although the majority of patients present with respiratory illness, several studies have described multiorgan involvement. This study evaluated the prevailing patterns of liver enzymes in COVID-19 patients on admission and their association with clinical outcomes.

Methods This was a single-center retrospective analysis of all inpatients with COVID-19. Demographic and clinical factors, and liver enzyme tests, including aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), were noted on admission. The association of liver enzyme elevation with outcomes such as inpatient death, need for intubation, and vasopressor use was determined using the chi-square test and multivariate regression analysis.

Results Among 200 patients, AST and ALT elevation was seen in 55% and 20%, respectively. Alkaline phosphatase elevation was seen in 28%. AST elevation was associated with inpatient death (odds ratio [OR] 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.05; P=0.035), need for vasopressors (OR 1.034, 95%CI 1.015-1.055; P=0.001), and intubation (OR 1.03, 95%CI 1.01-1.05; P=0.002). An AST/ALT ratio of 2 or more was seen in 34% of patients and was associated with need for intubation (OR 2.678, 95%CI 1.202-5.963; P=0.016), and need for vasopressors (OR 3.352, 95%CI 1.495-7.514; P=0.003).

Conclusion Serum aminotransferase levels are useful markers of hepatocellular injury. Patients with elevated AST or AST/ALT ratio are at higher risk of severe disease, as evidenced by intubation, vasopressor use, and inpatient death. These patients should be monitored closely given their propensity for severe disease.

Keywords Liver enzymes, COVID-19, outcomes, aspartate/alanine aminotransferase ratio

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (2): 224-228

Original Articles