Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and risk of hospitalization for Covid-19

Carolyn T. Bramante, Christopher J. Tignanelli, Nirjhar Dutta, Emma Jones, Leonardo Tamaritz, Jeanne M. Clark, Genevieve Melton-Meaux, Michael Usher, Sayeed Ikramuddin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Covid-19 disease causes significant morbidity and mortality through increase inflammation and thrombosis. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis are states of chronic inflammation and indicate advanced metabolic disease. We sought to understand the risk of hospitalization for Covid-19 associated with NAFLD/NASH. Methods: Retrospective analysis of electronic medical record data of 6,700 adults with a positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR from March 1, 2020 to Aug 25, 2020. Logistic regression and competing risk were used to assess odds of being hospitalized. Additional adjustment was added to assess risk of hospitalization among patients with a prescription for metformin use within the 3 months prior to the SARS-CoV-2 PCR result, history of home glucagon-like-peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1 RA) use, and history of metabolic and bariatric surgery (MBS). Interactions were assessed by gender and race. Results: A history of NAFLD/NASH was associated with increased odds of admission for Covid-19: logistic regression OR 2.04 (1.55, 2.96, p<0.01), competing risks OR 1.43 (1.09-1.88, p<0.01); and each additional year of having NAFLD/NASH was associated with a significant increased risk of being hospitalized for Covid-19, OR 1.86 (1.43-2.42, p<0.01). After controlling for NAFLD/NASH, persons with obesity had decreased odds of hospitalization for Covid-19, OR 0.41 (0.34-0.49, p<0.01). NAFLD/NASH increased risk of hospitalization in men and women, and in all racial/ethnic subgroups. Mediation treatments for metabolic syndrome were associated with non-significant reduced risk of admission: OR 0.42 (0.18-1.01, p=0.05) for home metformin use and OR 0.40 (0.14-1.17, p=0.10) for home GLP-1RA use. MBS was associated with a significant decreased risk of admission: OR 0.22 (0.05-0.98, p<0.05). Conclusions: NAFLD/NASH is a significant risk factor for hospitalization for Covid-19, and appears to account for risk attributed to obesity. Treatments for metabolic disease mitigated risks from NAFLD/NASH. More research is needed to confirm risk associated with visceral adiposity, and patients should be screened for and informed of treatments for metabolic syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Sep 2 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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