New-onset and relapsed liver diseases following COVID-19 vaccination: a systematic review

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BMC Gastroenterology


Background: Liver diseases post-COVID-19 vaccination is extremely rare but can occur. A growing body of evidence has indicated that portal vein thrombosis, autoimmune hepatitis, raised liver enzymes and liver injuries, etc., may be potential consequence of COVID-19 vaccines. Objectives: To describe the results of a systematic review for new-onset and relapsed liver disease following COVID-19 vaccination. Methods: For this systematic review, we searched Proquest, Medline, Embase, PubMed, CINAHL, Wiley online library, Scopus and Nature through the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses PRISMA guideline for studies on the incidence of new onset or relapsed liver diseases post-COVID-19 vaccination, published from December 1, 2020 to July 31, 2022, with English language restriction. Results: Two hundred seventy-five cases from one hundred and eighteen articles were included in the qualitative synthesis of this systematic review. Autoimmune hepatitis (138 cases) was the most frequent pathology observed post-COVID-19 vaccination, followed by portal vein thrombosis (52 cases), raised liver enzymes (26 cases) and liver injury (21 cases). Other cases include splanchnic vein thrombosis, acute cellular rejection of the liver, jaundice, hepatomegaly, acute hepatic failure and hepatic porphyria. Mortality was reported in any of the included cases for acute hepatic failure (n = 4, 50%), portal vein thrombosis (n = 25, 48.1%), splanchnic vein thrombosis (n = 6, 42.8%), jaundice (n = 1, 12.5%), raised liver enzymes (n = 2, 7.7%), and autoimmune hepatitis (n = 3, 2.2%). Most patients were easily treated without any serious complications, recovered and did not require long-term hepatic therapy. Conclusion: Reported evidence of liver diseases post-COIVD-19 vaccination should not discourage vaccination against this worldwide pandemic. The number of reported cases is relatively very small in relation to the hundreds of millions of vaccinations that have occurred and the protective benefits offered by COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks.

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