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SARS-CoV-2 infection complicated by intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy

02 November 2021
5 min read
Volume 29 · Issue 11


This article reports a case of SARS-CoV-2 infection complicated by intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy in the second trimester in a South Asian woman. She presented with itchiness and grossly elevated bile acid following SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. Her cholestasis resolved in parallel with her infection while she was being treated with ursodeoxycholic acid. Bile acid is considered harmful to a developing fetus and is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, particularly stillbirth. Ursodeoxycholic acid is still commonly used in the treatment of these patients despite controversy about its value. It has anti-inflammatory properties and there have been suggestions that this could benefit patients with SARS-CoV-2. Elevated levels of primary bile acids (cholic and chenodeoxycholic acid) are considered harmful to a developing fetus, and are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, in particular, stillbirth. The secondary bile acid, ursodeoxycholic acid, is thought to be beneficial by reducing cholesterol production in the liver. This clinical case study highlights a diagnostic enigma in the management of this unique clinical case presentation.

SARS-CoV-2 is a virulent pathogen that first emerged in December 2019 in the Hubei province of China. This virus causes severe acute respiratory syndrome and the associated illness was termed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the World Health Organization (2021). As a result of the virulence of this disease and the global movement of infected people, COVID-19 quickly became a global pandemic and crisis (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 2021).

Patients with COVID-19 have exhibited a wide spectrum of clinical presentations, including fever, respiratory symptoms, and extra-respiratory manifestations, such as thrombotic complications (Ahmed et al, 2020). To date, there is no robust evidence linking SARS-CoV-2 viral infection and the symptom of itching (Ahmed et al, 2020; Lai et al, 2020; Stefaniak et al, 2020).

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