• Analysis of antibody responses after COVID-19 vaccination in liver transplant recipients and those with chronic liver diseases

      Thuluvath, Paul J; Robarts, Polly; Chauhan, Mahak (Elsevier Inc., 2021-08-26)
      Background & Aims: Liver transplant (LT) recipients or other immunocompromised patients were not included in the registration trials of vaccine studies against SARS-CoV-2. Although clinical efficacy of COVID vaccines in immunocompromised patients was unknown, many societies had recommended vaccination of this highly vulnerable patient population. Methods: In this prospective study, we determined antibody (Ab) response to spike protein, 4 weeks after the 2nd dose of mRNA vaccines or after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in LT recipients and those with chronic liver diseases (CLD) with and without cirrhosis. Results: Of the 233 patients enrolled so far, 62 had LT, 79 had cirrhosis (10 decompensated) and 92 had CLD without cirrhosis. Ab titers were defined as undetectable (<0.40 U/mL), suboptimal (0.40 - 250 U/mL) and adequate (>250 U/mL). Of the 62 patients who had LT, Ab levels were undetectable in 11 patients and suboptimal (median titer 17.6, range 0.47 - 212 U/mL) in 27 patients. Among 79 patients with cirrhosis, 3 had undetectable Ab and 15 had suboptimal (median titer 41.3, range 0.49 - 221 U/L) response. Of the 92 patients without cirrhosis, four had undetectable Ab and 19 had suboptimal (median titer 95.5, range 4.9 - 234 U/L) Ab response. Liver transplantation, use of 2 or more immunosuppression medications and vaccination with a single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine were associated with poor immune response on multivariable analysis. No patient had any serious adverse events. Conclusions: Poor antibody response after SARS-CoV-2 vaccination was seen in 61% of LT recipients and 24% of those with CLD.