The outbreak of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has become a global public health challenge. Assessing the effect of COVID-19 on liver injury is of great importance. A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted to establish the characteristics of liver function tests in COVID-19 patients.
A systematic search of publications from December 2019 up to April 2020 in Web of Science, Scopus, and Medline (via PubMed) databases was performed. Both cross-sectional and case series studies reporting an association between liver injury and COVID-19 infection were included. The data were analyzed using the STATA software (version 11.0) and the random-effects model for I2>50% was used to pool the results.
In this meta-analysis, 42 articles comprising a total of 6,557 COVID-19 patients were studied. The prevalence of increase in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels was 30% and 21% in non-severe patients and 38% and 48% in severe patients, respectively. Patients with severe COVID-19 infection were 4.22, 4.96, and 4.13 times more likely to have elevated AST, ALT, and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels, respectively.
Elevation in liver function tests was higher in patients with severe than non-severe COVID-19 infection. Given the widespread use of drugs that increases the risk of hepatotoxicity, healthcare providers should be aware of changes in liver enzymes in COVID-19 patients. The inclusion of other studies from outside China could confirm the pattern of elevation in liver function tests in COVID-19 patients across the globe.Preprint of this article is available on medRxiv, https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.20.20108357v1
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