Cytokine release syndrome

J Immunother Cancer. 2018 Jun 15;6(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s40425-018-0343-9.


During the last decade the field of cancer immunotherapy has witnessed impressive progress. Highly effective immunotherapies such as immune checkpoint inhibition, and T-cell engaging therapies like bispecific T-cell engaging (BiTE) single-chain antibody constructs and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells have shown remarkable efficacy in clinical trials and some of these agents have already received regulatory approval. However, along with growing experience in the clinical application of these potent immunotherapeutic agents comes the increasing awareness of their inherent and potentially fatal adverse effects, most notably the cytokine release syndrome (CRS). This review provides a comprehensive overview of the mechanisms underlying CRS pathophysiology, risk factors, clinical presentation, differential diagnoses, and prognostic factors. In addition, based on the current evidence we give practical guidance to the management of the cytokine release syndrome.

Keywords: CAR T cells; Cytokine release syndrome; Cytokine storm; Immunotherapy; T cell-engaging therapies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Syndrome


  • Cytokines