Gut-lung axis and dysbiosis in COVID-19


TURKISH JOURNAL OF BIOLOGY, vol.44, no.3, pp.265-272, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 44 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.3906/biy-2005-102
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Veterinary Science Database, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.265-272
  • Keywords: COVID-19, gut-lung axis, dysbiosis, gut permeability, MICROBIOTA, CORONAVIRUS, SARS, INACTIVATION, DYSFUNCTION, INFECTION, CROSS, TALK
  • Gazi University Affiliated: Yes


COVID-19, a novel infectious disease, caused by SARS-CoV-2, affected millions of people around the world with a high mortality rate. Although SARS-CoV-2 mainly causes lung infection, gastrointestinal symptoms described in COVID-19 patients and detection of the viral RNA in feces of infected patients drove attentions to a possible fecal-oral transmission route of SARS-CoV-2. However, not only the viral RNA but also the infectious viral particles are required for the viral infection and no proof has been demonstrated the transmission of the infectious virus particles via the fecal-oral route yet. Growing evidence indicates the crosstalk between gut microbiota and lung, that maintains host homeostasis and disease development with the association of immune system. This gut-lung interaction may influence the COVID-19 severity in patients with extrapulmonary conditions. Severity of COVID-19 has mostly associated with old ages and underlying medical conditions. Since the diversity in the gut microbiota decreases during aging, dysbiosis could be the reason for older adults being at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We believe that gut microbiota contributes to the course of COVID-19 due to its bidirectional relationship with immune system and lung. Dysbiosis in gut microbiota results in gut permeability leading to secondary infection and multiple organ failure. Conversely, disruption of the gut barrier integrity due to dysbiosis may lead to translocation of SARS-CoV-2 from the lung into the intestinal lumen via circulatory and lymphatic system. This review points out the role of dysbiosis of the gut microbiota involving in sepsis, on the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Additionally, this review aims to clarify the ambiguity in fecal-oral transmission of SARS- CoV-2.