Revista ABCd (São Paulo). 05 Jan, 2022


Marcelo Augusto Fontenelle RIBEIRO-JUNIOR
Samara de Souza AUGUSTO
Yasmin Garcia Batista ELIAS
Cássia Tiemi Kawase COSTA
Paola Rezende NÉDER
DOI: 10.1590/0102-672020210002e1620


It is currently understood that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) directly enters target cells by binding to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. Accordingly, tissues with high expression levels of ACE2 are more susceptible to infection, including pulmonary alveolar epithelial cells, small intestine enterocytes, cholangiocytes, and vascular endothelial cells. Considering the atypical manifestations of COVID-19 and the challenges of early diagnosis, this review addresses the possible gastrointestinal complications of the disease.


The phrase “Gastrointestinal complication of COVID” was searched in the PubMed, Medline, and SciELO databases. Due to the heterogeneity of the studies included in the present review, a narrative synthesis of the available qualitative data was performed.


The literature search retrieved 28 articles, primarily case reports and case series, for the qualitative analysis of gastrointestinal complications of COVID-19, in addition to two retrospective cohort and one case-control. The studies focused on hemorrhagic, thrombotic, ischemic, and perforation complications, in addition to acute pancreatitis and pneumatosis intestinalis.


There is a straight relationship between high expression levels of ACE2 in the gastrointestinal tract and its greater susceptibility to direct infection by SARS-CoV-2. So, it is important to consider the gastrointestinal infection manifestations for early diagnosis and treatment trying to avoid more serious complications and death.

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