Acute kidney injury as a risk factor for mortality in oncological patients receiving checkpoint inhibitors

Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2022 Apr 25;37(5):887-894. doi: 10.1093/ndt/gfab034.


Background: Checkpoint inhibitors (CPIs) have drastically improved metastatic cancer outcomes. However, immunotherapy is associated with multiple toxicities, including acute kidney injury (AKI). Data about CPI-related AKI are limited. Our aim was to determine risk factors for CPI-related AKI as well as its clinical characteristics and its impact on mortality in patients undergoing immunotherapy.

Methods: All patients under CPI at our centre between March 2018 and May 2019 and with a follow-up through April 2020 were included. Demographic, clinical and laboratory data were collected. AKI was defined according to the Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes guidelines. We performed a logistic regression model to identify independent risk factors for AKI and actuarial survival analysis to establish risk factors for mortality in this population.

Results: A total of 759 patients were included, with a median age of 64 years. A total of 59% were men and baseline median creatinine was 0.80 mg/dL. The most frequent malignancy was lung cancer and 56% were receiving anti-programmed death protein 1 (PD-1). About 15.5% developed AKI during the follow-up. Age and baseline kidney function were identified as independent risk factors for CPI-related AKI. At the end of follow-up, 52.3% of patients had died. The type of cancer (not melanoma, lung or urogenital malignance), type of CPI (not cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4, PD-1, programmed death-ligand 1 or their combination) and the presence of an episode of AKI were identified as risk factors for mortality.

Conclusions: A total of 15.5% of patients under immunotherapy presented with AKI. A single AKI episode was identified as an independent risk factor for mortality in these patients and age and baseline renal function were risk factors for the development of AKI.

Keywords: acute kidney injury; checkpoint inhibitors; mortality; onconephrology.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Kidney Injury* / chemically induced
  • Acute Kidney Injury* / epidemiology
  • Creatinine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Creatinine