BACKGROUND: Severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is frequently associated with gastrointestinal manifestations . Herein we evaluated the interest in measuring the intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP), a biomarker of intestinal injury, in COVID-19 patients .
METHODS: Serum I-FABP was analyzed in 28 consecutive patients hospitalized for a PCR-confirmed COVID-19, in 24 hospitalized patients with non-COVID-19 pulmonary diseases, and 79 patients admitted to the emergency room for abdominal pain .
RESULTS: I-FABP serum concentrations were significantly lower in patients with COVID-19, as compared to patients with non-COVID-19 pulmonary diseases [70.3 pg/mL (47-167.9) vs. 161.1 pg/mL (88.98-305.2), respectively, p = 0.008]. I-FABP concentrations in these two populations were significantly lower than in patients with abdominal pain without COVID-19 [344.8 pg/mL (268.9-579.6) ]. I-FABP was neither associated with severity nor the duration of symptoms . I-FABP was correlated with polymorphonuclear cell counts .
CONCLUSIONS: In this pilot study, we observed a low I-FABP concentration in COVID-19 patients either with or without gastrointestinal symptoms, of which the pathophysiological mechanisms and clinical impact remain to be established . Further explorations on a larger cohort of patients will be needed to unravel the molecular mechanism of such observation, including the effects of malabsorption and/or abnormal lipid metabolism.