Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and COVID-19 susceptibility and outcomes: a Korean nationwide cohort
journal contributionposted on 2023-08-30, 19:09 authored by Hae Won Yoo, Hyun Young Jin, Dong Keon Yon, Maria Effenberger, Youn Ho Shin, So Young Kim, Jee Myung Yang, Min Seo Kim, Ai Koyanagi, Louis Jacob, Lee Smith, In Kyung Yoo, Jae Il Shin, Seung Won Lee
Background- Evidence for the association between underlying non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), the risk of testing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positive, and the clinical consequences of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is controversial and scarce. We aimed to investigate the association between the presence of NAFLD and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and COVID-19-related outcomes. Methods- We used the population-based, nationwide cohort in South Korea linked with the general health examination records between January 1, 2018 and July 30, 2020. Data for 212,768 adults older than 20 years who underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing from January 1 to May 30, 2020, were obtained. The presence of NAFLDs was defined using three definitions, namely hepatic steatosis index (HSI), fatty liver index (FLI), and claims-based definition. The outcomes were SARS-CoV-2 test positive, COVID-19 severe illness, and related death. Results- Among 74,244 adults who completed the general health examination, there were 2,251 (3.0%) who were SARS-CoV-2 positive, 438 (0.6%) with severe COVID-19 illness, and 45 (0.06%) COVID-19-related deaths. After exposure-driven propensity score matching, patients with pre-existing HSI-NAFLD, FLI-NAFLD, or claims-based NAFLD had an 11–23% increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection (HSI-NAFLD 95% confidence interval [CI], 1–28%; FLI-NAFLD 95% CI, 2–27%; and claims-based NAFLD 95% CI, 2–31%) and a 35–41% increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness (HSI-NAFLD 95% CI, 8–83%; FLI-NAFLD 95% CI, 5–71%; and claims-based NAFLD 95% CI, 1–92%). These associations are more evident as liver fibrosis advanced (based on the BARD scoring system). Similar patterns were observed in several sensitivity analyses including the full-unmatched cohort. Conclusion- Patients with pre-existing NAFLDs have a higher likelihood of testing SARS-CoV-2 positive and severe COVID-19 illness; this association was more evident in patients with NAFLD with advanced fibrosis. Our results suggest that extra attention should be given to the management of patients with NAFLD during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Publication titleJournal of Korean Medical Science
PublisherKorean Academy of Medical Sciences
- Accepted version