Hepatocellular injury and the mortality risk among patients with COVID-19: A retrospective cohort study

Link to article at PubMed

World J Hepatol. 2021 Aug 27;13(8):939-948. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v13.i8.939.


BACKGROUND: Clearly, infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is not limited to the lung but also affects other organs. We need predictive models to determine patients' prognoses and to improve health care resource allocation during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. While treating COVID-19, we observed differential outcome prediction weights for markers of hepatocellular injury among hospitalized patients.

AIM: To investigate the association between hepatocellular injury and all-cause in-hospital mortality among patients with COVID-19.

METHODS: This multicentre study employed a retrospective cohort design. All adult patients admitted to Al-Azhar University Hospital, Assiut, Egypt and Abo Teeg General Hospital, Assiut, Egypt with confirmed COVID-19 from June 1, 2020, to July 30, 2020 were eligible. We categorized our cohort into three groups of (1) patients with COVID-19 presenting normal aminotransferase levels; (2) patients with COVID-19 presenting one-fold higher aminotransferase levels; and (3) patients with COVID-19 presenting two-fold higher aminotransferase levels. We analysed the association between elevated aminotransferase levels and all-cause in-hospital mortality. The survival analysis was performed using the Kaplan-Meier method and tested by log-rank analysis.

RESULTS: In total, 376 of 419 patients met the inclusion criteria, while 29 (8%) patients in our cohort died during the hospital stay. The median age was 40 years (range: 28-56 years), and 51% were males (n = 194). At admission, 54% of the study cohort had liver injury. The pattern of liver injury was hepatocellular injury with an aspartate aminotransferase (AST) predominance. Admission AST levels were independently associated with all-cause in-hospital mortality in the logistic regression analysis. A one-fold increase in serum AST levels among patients with COVID-19 led to an eleven-fold increase in in-hospital mortality (P < 0.001). Admission AST levels correlated with C-reactive protein (r = 0.2; P < 0.003) and serum ferritin (r = 0.2; P < 0.0002) levels. Admission alanine aminotransferase levels correlated with serum ferritin levels (r = 0.1; P < 0.04). Serum total bilirubin levels were independently associated with in-hospital mortality in the binary logistic regression analysis after adjusting for age and sex but lost its statistical significance in the fully adjusted model. Serum ferritin levels were significantly associated with in-hospital mortality (P < 0.01). The probability of survival was significantly different between the AST groups and showed the following order: a two-fold increase in AST levels > a one-fold increase in in AST levels > normal AST levels (P < 0.0001).

CONCLUSION: Liver injury with an AST-dominant pattern predicts the severity of COVID-19. Elevated serum ferritin levels are associated with fatal outcomes.

PMID:34552700 | PMC:PMC8422919 | DOI:10.4254/wjh.v13.i8.939

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