Serological response and breakthrough infection after COVID-19 vaccination in patients with cirrhosis and post-liver transplant

G Mehta, A Riva, COBALT Consortium, MP Ballester, E Uson, M Pujadas, A Carvalho-Gomes, I Sahuco, A Bono, F D'Amico, R Viganò, E Diago, BT Lanseros, E Inglese, DM Vazquez, R Sharma, HLP Tsou, N Harris, A Broekhoven, M KikkertSPT Morales, SK Myeni, M Riveiro-Barciela, A Palom, N Zeni, A Brocca, A Cussigh, S Cmet, D Escudero-García, M Stocco, LA Natola, D Ieluzzi, V Paon, A Sangiovanni, E Farina, C di Benedetto, Y Sánchez-Torrijos, A Lucena-Varela, E Román, E Sánchez, R Sánchez-Aldehuelo, J López-Cardona, I Canas-Perez, C Eastgate, D Jeyanesan, AE Morocho, S Di Cola, L Lapenna, G Zaccherini, T Berg, Wojtek Polak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Web of Science)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Vaccine hesitancy and lack of access remain major issues in disseminating COVID-19 vaccination to liver patients globally. Factors predicting poor response to vaccination and risk of breakthrough infection are important data to target booster vaccine programs. The primary aim of the current study was to measure humoral responses to 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Secondary aims included the determination of factors predicting breakthrough infection. Methods: COVID-19 vaccination and Biomarkers in cirrhosis And post-Liver Transplantation is a prospective, multicenter, observational case-control study. Participants were recruited at 4-10 weeks following first and second vaccine doses in cirrhosis [n = 325; 94% messenger RNA (mRNA) and 6% viral vaccine], autoimmune liver disease (AILD) (n = 120; 77% mRNA and 23% viral vaccine), post-liver transplant (LT) (n = 146; 96% mRNA and 3% viral vaccine), and healthy controls (n = 51; 72% mRNA, 24% viral and 4% heterologous combination). Serological end points were measured, and data regarding breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infection were collected. Results: After adjusting by age, sex, and time of sample collection, anti-Spike IgG levels were the lowest in post-LT patients compared to cirrhosis (p < 0.0001), AILD (p < 0.0001), and control (p = 0.002). Factors predicting reduced responses included older age, Child-Turcotte-Pugh B/C, and elevated IL-6 in cirrhosis; non-mRNA vaccine in AILD; and coronary artery disease, use of mycophenolate and dysregulated B-call activating factor, and lymphotoxin-α levels in LT. Incident infection occurred in 6.6%, 10.6%, 7.4%, and 15.6% of cirrhosis, AILD, post-LT, and control, respectively. The only independent factor predicting infection in cirrhosis was low albumin level. Conclusions: LT patients present the lowest response to the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. In cirrhosis, the reduced response is associated with older age, stage of liver disease and systemic inflammation, and breakthrough infection with low albumin level.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0273
Pages (from-to)e0273
Number of pages25
JournalHepatology Communications
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.


Dive into the research topics of 'Serological response and breakthrough infection after COVID-19 vaccination in patients with cirrhosis and post-liver transplant'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this