Responses in Patients with Autoimmune Hepatitis following Third COVID-19 Vaccine Dose

July 25, 2022

Patients with autoimmune diseases often take immunosuppressant drugs in order to limit their immune system from attacking itself. These drugs have corresponded to a reduced immune response in patients after receiving a COVID-19 vaccination. More specifically, autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) patients appear to have an increased risk of acquiring COVID-19

A 2022 study by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany investigated the effect of the third COVID-19 vaccination on patients of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). The level of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies was measured in the blood of 81 autoimmune hepatitis patients. It was found that a sufficient humoral immune response, dependent on the formation of antibodies, was developed by all the patients after vaccination. Yet, the number of antibodies and T-cells created were significantly lower in the AIH patients compared to the healthy control population, with 48% of patients having antibody levels below the 10th percentile of healthy levels. Based on statistical analyses, AIH patients taking immunosuppressive MMF or steroid medications had a greater risk for these low antibody levels after vaccination. The paper suggests continued monitoring of antibody levels and even additional booster vaccinations for patients with weak immune responses.