High liver fat associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19

June 21, 2020
Fatty Liver Disease
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Oxford, Jun 21, 2020. High liver fat is associated with a higher risk of developing more severe COVID-19 infection, new research finds.

Scientists from Perspectum, using UK BioBank data, have revealed that obese patients with a fatty liver were at increased risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 infection. Obese patients with normal liver fat showed no increased risk.

Given the high prevalence of lifestyle-linked fatty liver disease, which is often undiagnosed, this research will help inform much needed public health policy for this population at high risk of severe infection.

Dr Louise Thomas, Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, a leading member of the team working with the UK BioBank; and close collaborator of Perspectum comments, “This latest publication by the team at Perspectum building on their work with the UK Biobank imaging data shows the potential of this resource to understand the additional burden of Covid-19 in those with an adverse metabolic phenotype. Elevated liver fat is known to be a risk factor for development and progression of several morbidities and it is interesting to see that it potentially an additional risk factor for the severity of COVID-19. I look forward to seeing how this work develops as more relevant data is added to the UK Biobank and through Perspectum's planned clinical study on this topic.”

Data from over forty thousand participants from the UK BioBank was used, leveraging MRI scanning with Perspectum’s LiverMultiScan® to precisely characterise liver disorders, including fatty liver disease, in this population. Combining this scan data with results of COVID-19 testing, researchers were able to identify risk factors associated with severe COVID-19. The research is currently undergoing peer-review.

“This study highlights reveals new insights into the key role of fatty liver disease in the severity of COVID-19 infection. We continue to characterise this interplay between COVID-19 severity and disease in multiple organs, including the liver, in more detail in our clinical study – COVERSCAN.” Dr Matt Kelly, Chief Innovation Officer at Perspectum.

Read the pre-print here.

Notes to Editors

About Perspectum  

Perspectum delivers cutting-edge digital technologies that help clinicians provide better care for patients with liver disease, diabetes, and cancer. With a strong focus on precision medicine using advanced imaging and genetics, our vision is to empower patients and clinicians through quantitative assessments of health enabling early detection, diagnosis, and targeted treatment. With a diverse team of physicians, biomedical scientists, engineers, and technologists, Perspectum offers a way to manage complex health problems at scale. For more information, visit perspectum.com