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COVID-19 was initially characterized as a disease primarily of the lungs, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the SARS-CoV2 virus is able to infect many organs and cause a broad pathological response. The primary infection site is likely to be a mucosal surface, mainly the lungs or the intestine, where epithelial cells can be infected with virus. Although it is clear that virus within the lungs can cause severe pathology, driven by an exaggerated immune response, infection within the intestine generally seems to cause minor or no symptoms. In this review, we compare the disease processes between the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, and what might drive these different responses. As the microbiome is a key part of mucosal barrier sites, we also consider the effect that microbial species may play on infection and the subsequent immune responses. Because of difficulties obtaining tissue samples, there are currently few studies focused on the local mucosal response rather than the systemic response, but understanding the local immune response will become increasingly important for understanding the mechanisms of disease in order to develop better treatments.

Original publication




Journal article


Oxf Open Immunol

Publication Date





COVID-19, gut, lung, microbiome, mucosal immunity