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Gut microbiome and COVID-19: Is there a connection?

In recent years a good deal of research has focused on the association between the diversity of our gut bacteria (or microbiome) and overall health.

But could having a healthy gut microbiome profile influence how we respond to infection with COVID-19?

According to this recent and speculative review by researchers from the Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, New Delhi, the answer is quite possibly.

While there is currently no specific evidence of a connection between the gut microbiome and COVID-19, the authors consider that since the virus has been detected in stool samples and that infection is associated with diarrhoea in some patients, it is entirely possible that a gut-lung axis exists.

In support of their argument, the authors cite evidence that changes in the gut microbiome or “dysbiosis” are linked to disorders such as type 2 diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disease and how respiratory infections alter the range of organisms present in the gut. They speculate that since elderly patients have a less diverse gut microbiome, this could account for why these patients are more susceptible to problems when infected with the virus.

Finally, the authors contend that improving gut microbiome diversity through the use of pre- and probiotics could enhance the immune system and thus an individual’s ability to fight infection with COVID-19.

Dhar D, Mohanty A. Gut microbiota and covid-19 – possible link and implications Virus Res 2020;285;198018.