Effects of immunosuppressive drugs on COVID-19 severity in patients with autoimmune hepatitis

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Efe C., Lammert C., Tascilar K., Dhanasekaran R., Ebik B., Higuera-de la Tijera F., ...More

LIVER INTERNATIONAL, vol.42, no.3, pp.607-614, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/liv.15121
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.607-614
  • Keywords: autoimmunity, azathioprine, budesonide, liver transplantation, mercaptopurine, SARS-CoV-2, LIVER-TRANSPLANT RECIPIENTS
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background We investigated associations between baseline use of immunosuppressive drugs and severity of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). Patients and methods Data of AIH patients with laboratory confirmed COVID-19 were retrospectively collected from 15 countries. The outcomes of AIH patients who were on immunosuppression at the time of COVID-19 were compared to patients who were not on AIH medication. The clinical courses of COVID-19 were classified as (i)-no hospitalization, (ii)-hospitalization without oxygen supplementation, (iii)-hospitalization with oxygen supplementation by nasal cannula or mask, (iv)-intensive care unit (ICU) admission with non-invasive mechanical ventilation, (v)-ICU admission with invasive mechanical ventilation or (vi)-death and analysed using ordinal logistic regression. Results We included 254 AIH patients (79.5%, female) with a median age of 50 (range, 17-85) years. At the onset of COVID-19, 234 patients (92.1%) were on treatment with glucocorticoids (n = 156), thiopurines (n = 151), mycophenolate mofetil (n = 22) or tacrolimus (n = 16), alone or in combinations. Overall, 94 (37%) patients were hospitalized and 18 (7.1%) patients died. Use of systemic glucocorticoids (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 4.73, 95% CI 1.12-25.89) and thiopurines (aOR 4.78, 95% CI 1.33-23.50) for AIH was associated with worse COVID-19 severity, after adjusting for age-sex, comorbidities and presence of cirrhosis. Baseline treatment with mycophenolate mofetil (aOR 3.56, 95% CI 0.76-20.56) and tacrolimus (aOR 4.09, 95% CI 0.69-27.00) were also associated with more severe COVID-19 courses in a smaller subset of treated patients. Conclusion Baseline treatment with systemic glucocorticoids or thiopurines prior to the onset of COVID-19 was significantly associated with COVID-19 severity in patients with AIH.