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Front Cell Infect Microbiol ; 11: 753249, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1512021


Background: Novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 is evolving continuously with emergence of several variants of increasing transmission capabilities and pandemic potential. Generation of variants occurs through accumulation of mutations due to the RNA nature of viral genome, which is further enhanced by variable selection pressures of this ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 presentations of SARS-CoV2 are mainly pulmonary manifestations with or without mild gastrointestinal (GI) and hepatic symptoms. However, the virus has evolved beyond pulmonary manifestations to multisystem disorder due to systemic inflammation and cytokine storm. Definitive cause of acute or late onset of inflammation, infection in various organs, and host response to emerging variants lacks clarity and needs elucidation. Several studies have reported underlying diseases including diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardio- and cerebrovascular disorders, and immunocompromised conditions as significant risk factors for severe form of COVID-19. Pre-existing liver and GI diseases are also highly predominant in the population, which can alter COVID-19 outcome due to altered immune status and host response. We aim to review the emerging variants of SARS-CoV2 and host response in patients with pre-existing liver and GI diseases. Methods: In this review, we have elucidated the emergence and characteristic features of new SARS-CoV2 variants, mechanisms of infection and host immune response, GI and hepatic manifestation with radiologic features of COVID-19, and outcomes in pre-existing liver and GI diseases. Key Findings: Emerging variants of concern (VOC) have shown increased transmissibility and virulence with severe COVID-19 presentation and mortality. There is a drastic swift of variants from the first wave to the next wave of infections with predominated major VOC including alpha (B.1.1.7, UK), beta (B.1.351, South Africa), gamma (B., Brazil), and delta (B1.1.617, India) variants. The mutations in the spike protein of VOC are implicated for increased receptor binding (N501Y, P681R) and immune escape (L452R, E484K/Q, T478K/R) to host response. Pre-existing liver and GI diseases not only have altered tissue expression and distribution of viral entry ACE2 receptor but also host protease TMPRSS2, which is required for both spike protein binding and cleavage to initiate infection. Altered immune status due to pre-existing conditions results in delayed virus clearance or prolonged viremia. Even though GI and hepatic manifestations of SARS-CoV2 are less severe, the detection of virus in patient's stool indicates GI tropism, replication, and shedding from the GI tract. COVID-19-induced liver injury, acute hepatic decompensation, and incidences of acute-on-chronic liver failure may change the disease outcomes. Conclusions: The changes in the spike protein of emerging variants, immunomodulation by viral proteins, and altered expression of host viral entry receptor in pre-existing diseases are the key determinants of host response to SARS-CoV2 and its disease outcome.

COVID-19 , Gastrointestinal Diseases , Humans , Immunity , Liver , RNA, Viral , SARS-CoV-2