Liver injury after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination: Features of immune-mediated hepatitis, role of corticosteroid therapy and outcome

Efe C., Kulkarni A. V., Terziroli Beretta-Piccoli B., Magro B., Friedrich Staettermayer A., Cengiz M., ...More

HEPATOLOGY, vol.76, no.6, pp.1576-1586, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 76 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/hep.32572
  • Journal Name: HEPATOLOGY
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.1576-1586
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background and Aims A few case reports of autoimmune hepatitis-like liver injury have been reported after severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccination. We evaluated clinical features, treatment response and outcomes of liver injury following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination in a large case series. Approach and Results We collected data from cases in 18 countries. The type of liver injury was assessed with the R-value. The study population was categorized according to features of immune-mediated hepatitis (positive autoantibodies and elevated immunoglobulin G levels) and corticosteroid therapy for the liver injury. We identified 87 patients (63%, female), median age 48 (range: 18-79) years at presentation. Liver injury was diagnosed a median 15 (range: 3-65) days after vaccination. Fifty-one cases (59%) were attributed to the Pfizer-BioNTech (BNT162b2) vaccine, 20 (23%) cases to the Oxford-AstraZeneca (ChAdOX1 nCoV-19) vaccine and 16 (18%) cases to the Moderna (mRNA-1273) vaccine. The liver injury was predominantly hepatocellular (84%) and 57% of patients showed features of immune-mediated hepatitis. Corticosteroids were given to 46 (53%) patients, more often for grade 3-4 liver injury than for grade 1-2 liver injury (88.9% vs. 43.5%, p = 0.001) and more often for patients with than without immune-mediated hepatitis (71.1% vs. 38.2%, p = 0.003). All patients showed resolution of liver injury except for one man (1.1%) who developed liver failure and underwent liver transplantation. Steroid therapy was withdrawn during the observation period in 12 (26%) patients after complete biochemical resolution. None had a relapse during follow-up. Conclusions SARS-CoV-2 vaccination can be associated with liver injury. Corticosteroid therapy may be beneficial in those with immune-mediated features or severe hepatitis. Outcome was generally favorable, but vaccine-associated liver injury led to fulminant liver failure in one patient.