Immunotherapy-induced Colitis: A Comprehensive Review of Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation, Diagnostic Workup, and Management Plan

J Clin Gastroenterol. 2022 Aug 1;56(7):555-564. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001705. Epub 2022 Apr 21.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have revolutionized the treatment of a variety of malignancies including advanced melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, head and neck cancers among others. Since their introduction, there has been significant improvement in survival and prognosis in patients with advanced malignancies. Unfortunately, improved outcomes have come at a price of significant immune-related adverse events, with those of the gastrointestinal tract being the most common. Gastrointestinal immune-related adverse events frequently present as diarrhea and colitis, the severity of which can range from mild diarrhea to fulminant colitis with intestinal perforation. Currently, management of ICI-induced colitis is primarily guided by retrospective studies and expert opinion. A significant number of ICI-induced colitis responds to high-dose corticosteroids; however, some patients require further therapy with biologics. There is limited information on the factors which may predispose patients to ICI-induced colitis. Future research elucidating these risk factors along with development of a scoring system could allow for risk-stratification of patients before initiation of ICI therapy. Such a system may help clinicians and patients keep a high index of suspicion regarding ICI-induced colitis and could hopefully reduce the incidence of severe cases. Similarly, future studies should investigate protective factors against ICI-induced colitis, which could potentially allow more patients to safely benefit from ICI therapy.

Trial registration: NCT03816345.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / complications
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / therapy
  • Colitis* / chemically induced
  • Colitis* / diagnosis
  • Colitis* / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Immunotherapy / adverse effects
  • Lung Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Immunologic Factors

Associated data