Immune-related adverse events of checkpoint inhibitors

Nat Rev Dis Primers. 2020 May 7;6(1):38. doi: 10.1038/s41572-020-0160-6.


Cancer immunotherapies have changed the landscape of cancer treatment during the past few decades. Among them, immune checkpoint inhibitors, which target PD-1, PD-L1 and CTLA-4, are increasingly used for certain cancers; however, this increased use has resulted in increased reports of immune-related adverse events (irAEs). These irAEs are unique and are different to those of traditional cancer therapies, and typically have a delayed onset and prolonged duration. IrAEs can involve any organ or system. These effects are frequently low grade and are treatable and reversible; however, some adverse effects can be severe and lead to permanent disorders. Management is primarily based on corticosteroids and other immunomodulatory agents, which should be prescribed carefully to reduce the potential of short-term and long-term complications. Thoughtful management of irAEs is important in optimizing quality of life and long-term outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Autoantibodies / analysis
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • B7-H1 Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • CTLA-4 Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Disease Management
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / epidemiology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / etiology*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions / physiopathology
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors / adverse effects*
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Autoantibodies
  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • Biomarkers
  • CD274 protein, human
  • CTLA-4 Antigen
  • CTLA4 protein, human
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Immunologic Factors
  • PDCD1 protein, human
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor