Safety and efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors for end-stage renal disease patients undergoing dialysis: a retrospective case series and literature review

Invest New Drugs. 2019 Jun;37(3):579-583. doi: 10.1007/s10637-018-0673-y. Epub 2018 Oct 8.


Despite the lack of safety and efficacy data regarding immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) for renal dysfunction, they have been approved to treat even in the patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We report our experience with ICI administration to three ESRD patients undergoing hemodialysis. One of the patients had a partial response for several months; however, the other patients had a stable disease while undergoing dialysis. The toxicity was tolerable; however, one patient developed grade 2 pneumonitis. A literature review of other rarely reported cases of hemodialysis revealed that 10 out of 13 patients had a partial response or complete response; in addition, grade 3 or grade 4 immune-related adverse events occurred in 3 patients. ESRD combined with dialysis may not be a contraindication for the use of ICIs. ICIs can be beneficial to ESRD patients undergoing dialysis. However, caution is needed regarding immune-related adverse events. Further prospective studies involving pharmacokinetic analyses are necessary to obtain reliable safety and efficacy data.

Keywords: Dialysis; End-stage renal disease; Immune checkpoint inhibitor.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nivolumab / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • Nivolumab
  • atezolizumab