The PD-1:PD-L1 axis in Inflammatory Arthritis

BMC Rheumatol. 2021 Jan 11;5(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s41927-020-00171-2.


The activation of antigen specific T cells during an immune response is a tightly regulated process at the level of both costimulatory and coinhibitory receptors. One such coinhibitory receptor or checkpoint inhibitor which has received much attention in the field of oncology is the programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). Blockade of PD-1 or its ligand PD-L1 has proven successful in the treatment of a wide variety of cancers, therefore highlighting an important role for this pathway in anti-tumour immune responses. However, a caveat of PD-1 therapy and boosting anti-tumour immune responses is the development of self-reactive T cells which can lead to the induction of various autoimmune or inflammatory diseases, referred to as immune- related adverse events (irAEs). The emergence of rheumatological irAEs such as Inflammatory Arthritis (IA) in recent years has highlighted the importance of PD-1 in maintaining self-tolerance. Furthermore, the emergence of rheumatology related irAEs raises an important question as to how defects in this pathway can contribute to spontaneous rheumatological disease. In this review, we describe the biological distribution, function and regulation of the PD-1 pathway, its potential role in IA and irAE related IA.

Keywords: Adverse events; Checkpoint inhibitors; PD-1; Psoriatic arthritis; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review