COVID-19 and liver injury: A meta-analysis

Karn Wijarnpreecha, Patompong Ungprasert, Panadeekarn Panjawatanan, Denise M. Harnois, Himesh B. Zaver, Aijaz Ahmed, Donghee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background/aims The number of cases with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has exceeded seven million worldwide. However, the data describing the global prevalence of liver injury associated with COVID-19 is lacking secondary to the novelty of this ongoing pandemic. Therefore, we conducted a meta-analysis to determine the association between COVID-19 and liver injury. Methods A systematic literature search of indexed databases including, PubMed, Medline, and Embase databases from inception to 14 April 2020, was used to identify studies that reported data of liver chemistry in patients diagnosed with COVID 19. The overall prevalence of abnormal liver chemistry and relevant 95% confidence interval was used to estimate the pooled results studies. Results Sixty-four studies with 11 245 patients with COVID-19 were included. The pattern of abnormal liver enzymes was notable for higher aspartate aminotransferase (AST) than alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. The overall global prevalence of elevated AST, ALT, total bilirubin, gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), and alkaline phosphatase was 23.2, 21.2, 9.7, 15.0, and 4.0%, respectively. The prevalence of elevated AST was substantially higher among those with severe cases (45.5%) compared to non-severe cases (15.0%). Co-existing chronic liver disease presented up to 37.6% of patients with COVID-19. Conclusion A fourth of COVID-19 patients had elevated liver enzymes and associated with disease severity. Our study may be used as a guide for clinicians and epidemiologists to proactively identify other sources of injury and illness in patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Intensive monitoring for liver injury may be needed in cases with severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-995
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • alanine aminotransferase
  • aspartate aminotransferase
  • liver injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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