COVID-19 Vaccination in Liver Cirrhosis: Safety and Immune and Clinical Responses

Inês Canha, Mário Jorge Silva, Maria Azevedo Silva, Mara Sarmento Costa, Rita Ornelas Saraiva, André Ruge, Mariana Verdelho Machado, Catarina Sousa Félix, Bárbara Morão, Pedro Narra Figueiredo, Milena Mendes, Carina Leal, Filipe Calinas

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Introduction: Three years after the beginning of the SARSCoV-2 pandemic, the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in liver cirrhosis (LC) patients remain controversial. We aimed to study the safety, immunological, and clinical responses of LC patients to COVID-19 vaccination. Methods: Prospective multicentric study in adults with LC eligible for COVID-19 vaccination, without prior known infection. Patients were followed up until the timing of a booster dose, SARS-CoV-2 infection, or death. Spike-protein immunoglobulin G antibody titers for SARS-CoV-2 at 2 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months postvaccination were assessed. Antibody titers <33.8 binding antibody units (BAU)/mL were considered seronegative and <200 BAU/mL suboptimal. Postvaccination infection and its severity were registered. Results: We included 124 LC patients, 81% males, mean aged 61 ± 10 years, with a mean follow-up of 221 ± 26 days. Alcohol was the most common (61%) cause of cirrhosis, and 7% were under immunosuppressants for autoimmune hepatitis; 69% had portal hypertension, 42% had a previous decompensation, and 21% had a Child-Pugh-Turcotte score of B/C. The type of vaccine administrated was BNT162b2 (n = 59, 48%), ChAdOx1nCoV-19 (n = 45, 36%), mRNA-1273 (n = 14, 11%), and Ad26.COV2.S (n = 6, 5%). Eighteen percent of the patients reported adverse events after vaccination, none serious. Median [Q1; Q3] antibody titers were 1,185 [280; 2,080] BAU/mL at 2 weeks, 301 [72; 1,175] BAU/mL at 3 months, and 192 [49; 656] BAU/mL at 6 months. There were seronegative and suboptimal antibody responses in 8% and 23% of the patients at 2 weeks, 16% and 38% at 3 months, and 22% and 48% at 6 months. Older age and adenovirus vector vaccines were the only factors associated with seronegative and suboptimal responses at 2 weeks and 3 months (p < 0.05) in a multivariable logistic regression analysis. Eleven patients (9%) were infected with SARS-CoV-2 during follow-up (3.8–6.6 months postvaccination), all with mild disease. There were no differences regarding the type of vaccine, and 73% had antibody titers >200 BAU/mL at 3 months. Conclusion: COVID-19 vaccines in patients with LC were safe, without serious adverse events. The humoral and clinical responses were similar to the reported for the general population. Humoral response was adversely impacted by older age and adenovirus vector vaccines and unrelated to the liver disease severity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGE Portuguese Journal of Gastroenterology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023


  • Antibodies
  • COVID-19
  • Infection
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Vaccine


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