Alcohol Consumption is Associated with Poor Prognosis in Obese Patients with COVID-19: a Mendelian Randomization Study using UK Biobank.
Background: Acute and chronic alcohol abuse have adverse impacts on both the innate and adaptive immune response, which may result in reduced resistance to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection and promote the progression of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, there are no large population-based data evaluating potential causal associations between alcohol consumption and COVID-19.
Method: We conducted a Mendelian randomization study using data from UK Biobank to explore the association between alcohol consumption and risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection and serious clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19. A total of 12,937 participants aged 50-83 who tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 16 March to 27 July 2020 (12.1% tested positive) were included in the analysis. The exposure factor was alcohol consumption. Main outcomes were SARS-CoV-2 positivity and death in COVID-19 patients. We generated weighted and unweighted allele scores using three genetic variants (rs1229984, rs1260326, and rs13107325) and applied the allele scores as the instrumental variables to assess the effect of alcohol consumption on outcomes. Analyses were conducted separately for white participates with and without obesity.
Results: Of the 12,937 participants, 4,496 were never or infrequent drinkers and 8,441 were frequent drinkers. (including 1,156 light drinkers, 3,795 moderate drinkers, and 3,490 heavy drinkers). Both logistic regression and Mendelian randomization analyses found no evidence that alcohol consumption was associated with risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in participants either with (OR=0.963, 95%CI 0.800-1.159; =1.000) or without obesity (OR=0.891, 95%CI 0.755-1.053; =.319). However, frequent drinking (HR=1.565, 95%CI 1.012-2.419; =.079), especially heavy drinking (HR=2.071, 95%CI 1.235-3.472; =.054), was associated with higher risk of death in patients with obesity and COVID-19, but not in patients without obesity. Notably, the risk of death in frequent drinkers with obesity increased slightly with the average amount of alcohol consumed weekly (HR=1.480, 95%CI 1.059-2.069; =.099).
Conclusions: Our findings suggested alcohol consumption may had adverse effects on the progression of COVID-19 in white participants with obesity, but was not associate with susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.