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Papers of the Week

2022 Apr 30

Pharmaceuticals (Basel)



Hematological and Extra-Hematological Autoimmune Complications after Checkpoint Inhibitors.


Fattizzo B, Rampi N, Barcellini W
Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2022 Apr 30; 15(5).
PMID: 35631383.


Checkpoint inhibitors (CPI) represent a novel therapeutical strategy with a high efficacy both in solid and hematological cancers. They act by reactivating the immune system against neoplastic cells but may, in turn, cause immune-related adverse events (IRAEs) involving several organs with variable frequency and severity. Up to 10% of CPI-treated patients experience hematological IRAEs, mainly cytopenias. The differential diagnosis is challenging due to underlying disease, previous treatments and the variable liability of available tests (i.e., the direct antiglobulin test, anti-platelet antibodies, etc.). Among extra-hematological IRAEs, cutaneous and endocrine ones are the most frequent (up to 30-50%), ranging from mild (pruritus, eczema and thyroid dysfunctions) to severe forms (bullous disorders, hypophysitis and diabetes), mostly requiring topic or replacement therapy. Gastroenteric and kidney toxicities occur in about 5% of patients, biopsies may support the diagnosis, and immunosuppressive treatment is required in severe cases. Finally, neurologic and cardiologic IRAEs, although rare, may be life-threatening and require prompt intervention. By reviewing the most recent literature on post-CPI IRAEs, it emerged that clinical suspicion and monitoring of laboratory markers of organ damage is pivotal to a prompt diagnosis. In severe cases, CPI should be discontinued and immunosuppressive therapy started, whilst rechallenge is anecdotal and should be carefully evaluated.