Cancer patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy are at an increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease

J Immunother Cancer. 2020 Feb;8(1):e000300. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2019-000300.


The widespread clinical use of immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) has increased our knowledge on their adverse effects on chronic inflammatory diseases. Atherosclerosis, a low-grade lipid-driven inflammatory disease of the larger arteries, is commonly present in cancer patients. A major concern is the adverse effect of ICI on atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, resulting in cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction or ischaemic stroke. The effects of ICI on atherosclerosis in cancer patients are incompletely understood, but it is well known that immune checkpoint proteins orchestrate the inflammatory response underlying atherogenesis. This paper addresses the hypothesis that ICI therapy puts cancer patients at an increased risk for atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, that might only become apparent years after ICI therapy. Until clinical and experimental studies have addressed this hypothesis, optimal cardiovascular risk management in ICI-treated patients is opportune to reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease in cancer patients and long-term cancer survivors.

Keywords: immunology; oncology.