Autoimmune phenomena and clinically apparent autoimmune diseases, including autoimmune hepatitis, are increasingly been reported not only after natural infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but also after vaccination against it. We report the case of a 63-year old man without a history of autoimmunity or SARS-CoV-2 natural infection who experienced acute severe autoimmune-like hepatitis seven days after the first dose of the mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. Liver histology showed inflammatory portal infiltrate with interface hepatitis, lobular and centrilobular inflammation with centrilobular necrosis, in absence of fibrosis and steatosis. Serum immunoglobulin G was slightly elevated.
Autoimmune liver serology showed an indirect immunofluorescence pattern on triple rodent tissue compatible with anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA), but, unexpectedly, this pattern was not mirrored by positivity for primary biliary cholangitis (PBC)-specific molecular tests, indicating that this antibody is different from classical AMA. Anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) was also positive with a rim-like indirect immunofluorescence pattern on liver and HEp2 cell substrates, similar to PBC-specific ANA; however, anti-gp210 and a large panel of molecular-based assays for nuclear antigens were negative, suggesting a unique ANA in our patient. He carries the HLA DRB1*11:01 allele, which is protective against PBC. Response to prednisone treatment was satisfactory. The clinical significance of these novel specificities needs to be further evaluated in this emerging condition.