Patients with Liver Cirrhosis Show High Immunogenicity upon COVID-19 Vaccination but Develop Premature Deterioration of Antibody Titers

SARS-CoV-2 infection is known to lead to severe morbidity and mortality in patients with liver cirrhosis. For this reason, vaccination of these patients against COVID-19 is widely recommended. However, data regarding immunogenicity in patients with liver cirrhosis is limited and even less is known about the kinetics of antibody response, as well as the optimal timing of booster immunization. We analyzed immunogenicity in 110 patients with liver cirrhosis after receiving two doses of the mRNA-based vaccine BNT162b2 following the standard protocol and compared these results to a control group consisting of 80 healthcare workers. One hundred and six patients with liver cirrhosis (96%) developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, compared to 79 (99%) in the control group (p = 0.400). Still, the median SARS-CoV-2 IgG titer was significantly lower in patients with liver cirrhosis compared to the control group (939 vs. 1905 BAU/mL, p = 0.0001). We also analyzed the strength of the antibody response in relation to the time between the second dose and antibody detection. Antibody titers remained relatively stable in the control group while showing a rapid and significant decrease in patients with liver cirrhosis. In conclusion, our data reveals a favorable initial outcome after vaccination with the COVID-19 vaccine BNT162b2 in cirrhotic patients but show a rapid deterioration of the antibody response after time, thereby giving a strong hint towards the importance of early booster immunization for this group of patients.


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