Liver Injury in Liver Transplant Recipients With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): U.S. Multicenter Experience

the COLD Consortium

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Background and Aims: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with liver injury, but the prevalence and patterns of liver injury in liver transplantation (LT) recipients with COVID-19 are open for study. Approach and Results: We conducted a multicenter study in the United States of 112 adult LT recipients with COVID-19. Median age was 61 years (interquartile range, 20), 54.5% (n = 61) were male, and 39.3% (n = 44) Hispanic. Mortality rate was 22.3% (n = 25); 72.3% (n = 81) were hospitalized and 26.8% (n = 30) admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Analysis of peak values of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) during COVID-19 showed moderate liver injury (ALT 2-5× upper limit of normal [ULN]) in 22.2% (n = 18) and severe liver injury (ALT > 5× ULN) in 12.3% (n = 10). Compared to age- and sex-matched nontransplant patients with chronic liver disease and COVID-19 (n = 375), incidence of acute liver injury was lower in LT recipients (47.5% vs. 34.6%; P = 0.037). Variables associated with liver injury in LT recipients were younger age (P = 0.009; odds ratio [OR], 2.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.20-3.54), Hispanic ethnicity (P = 0.011; OR, 6.01; 95% CI, 1.51-23.9), metabolic syndrome (P = 0.016; OR, 5.87; 95% CI, 1.38-24.99), vasopressor use (P = 0.018; OR, 7.34; 95% CI, 1.39-38.52), and antibiotic use (P = 0.046; OR, 6.93; 95% CI, 1.04-46.26). Reduction in immunosuppression (49.4%) was not associated with liver injury (P = 0.156) or mortality (P = 0.084). Liver injury during COVID-19 was significantly associated with mortality (P = 0.007; OR, 6.91; 95% CI, 1.68-28.48) and ICU admission (P = 0.007; OR, 7.93; 95% CI, 1.75-35.69) in LT recipients. Conclusions: Liver injury is associated with higher mortality and ICU admission in LT recipients with COVID-19. Hence, monitoring liver enzymes closely can help in early identification of patients at risk for adverse outcomes. Reduction of immunosuppression during COVID-19 did not increase risk for mortality or graft failure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1900-1911
Number of pages12
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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