Tocilizumab for the treatment of immune-related adverse events: a systematic literature review and a multicentre case series

Eur J Intern Med. 2021 Nov;93:87-94. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2021.07.016. Epub 2021 Aug 12.


Objective: Research is moving towards a more personalized management of immune-related adverse events (irAEs) due to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI). Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in the treatment of these clinical manifestations.

Methods: A systematic literature review was performed to retrieve data about the use of tocilizumab in the treatment of irAEs. Additionally, data from cancer patients referred to our Immune-related Adverse Event Clinic and treated with tocilizumab were collected.

Results: Our literature review identified 20 articles and 11 meeting abstracts. Data about 91 cancer patients who received tocilizumab for the treatment of irAEs were collected. In 85% of cases, this therapy was associated with clinical benefit and no case of disease progression was reported. ICI therapy was continued following irAE onset and biologic therapy initiation in only three patients. Five patients developed irAEs upon ICI initiation and were subsequently treated with tocilizumab at our Centre. At a median follow-up of eight months, tocilizumab was safely continued along with ICI in three out of five patients, and an adequate control of irAE was obtained in all cases. No significant adverse reactions to tocilizumab were reported. Only one patient experienced a disease progression 18 months after ICI discontinuation.

Conclusion: Both our systematic literature review and case series highlight the efficacy and safety of tocilizumab in the treatment of irAEs. Furthermore, they both support the possibility of a combined approach with tocilizumab and ICI, to guarantee an effective irAEs management without losing the oncologic response.

Keywords: Arthritis; Immune checkpoint inhibition; Immune-related adverse events; Myocarditis; Tocilizumab; Vasculitis.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • tocilizumab