Published online Apr 14, 2021. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i14.1406
Peer-review started: February 1, 2021
First decision: February 27, 2021
Revised: March 13, 2021
Accepted: March 19, 2021
Article in press: March 19, 2021
Published online: April 14, 2021
Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms have been described in a conspicuous percentage of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. This clinical evidence is supported by the detection of viral RNA in stool, which also supports the hypothesis of a possible fecal-oral transmission route. The involvement of GI tract in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is corroborated by the theoretical assumption that angiotensin converting enzyme 2, which is a SARS-CoV-2 target receptor, is present along the GI tract. Studies have pointed out that gut dysbiosis may occur in COVID-19 patients, with a possible correlation with disease severity and with complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. However, the question to be addressed is whether dysbiosis is a consequence or a contributing cause of SARS-CoV-2 infection. In such a scenario, pharmacological therapies aimed at decreasing GI permeability may be beneficial for COVID-19 patients. Considering the possibility of a fecal-oral transmission route, water and environmental sanitation play a crucial role for COVID-19 containment, especially in developing countries.
Core Tip: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients may suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms that are associated with gastrointestinal dysbiosis. Even though the exact role of gut microbiome perturbation as a either a cause or a consequence of the disease is still to be elucidated, pharmacological interventions aimed at containing intestinal permeability may be of support in COVID-19 patients.