Publication date: Sep 21, 2023
Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) has been recently proposed as a modulator of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor expression, with potential effects on COVID-19. We retrospectively evaluated the clinical course and outcome of subjects taking UDCA admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 compared with matched infected subjects. Differences regarding the severity and outcome of the disease between treated and non-treated subjects were assessed. The Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and log-rank test were used to evaluate the effect of UDCA on all-cause intra-hospital mortality. Among 6444 subjects with confirmed COVID-19 admitted to the emergency department (ED) from 1 March 2020 to 31 December 2022, 109 subjects were taking UDCA. After matching 629 subjects were included in the study: 521 in the no UDCA group and 108 in the UDCA group. In our matched cohort, 144 subjects (22. 9%) died, 118 (22. 6%) in the no-UDCA group and 26 (24. 1%) in the UDCA group. The Kaplan-Meier analysis showed no significant difference in survival between groups. In univariate regression analysis, the presence of pneumonia, National Early Warning Score (NEWS) score, and Charlson Comorbidity Index (CCI) were significant independent predictors of death. At multivariate Cox regression analysis, age, NEWS, pneumonia and CCI index were confirmed significant independent predictors of death. UDCA treatment was not a predictor of survival both in univariate and multivariate regressions. UDCA treatment does not appear to have significant effects on the outcome of COVID-19. Specially designed prospective studies are needed to evaluate efficacy in preventing infection and severe disease.