Rheumatic Immune-Related Adverse Events due to Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors-A 2023 Update

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Mar 15;24(6):5643. doi: 10.3390/ijms24065643.


With the aging of the population, malignancies are becoming common complications in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), particularly in elderly patients. Such malignancies often interfere with RA treatment. Among several therapeutic agents, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) which antagonize immunological brakes on T lymphocytes have emerged as a promising treatment option for a variety of malignancies. In parallel, evidence has accumulated that ICIs are associated with numerous immune-related adverse events (irAEs), such as hypophysitis, myocarditis, pneumonitis, and colitis. Moreover, ICIs not only exacerbate pre-existing autoimmune diseases, but also cause de novo rheumatic disease-like symptoms, such as arthritis, myositis, and vasculitis, which are currently termed rheumatic irAEs. Rheumatic irAEs differ from classical rheumatic diseases in multiple aspects, and treatment should be individualized based on the severity. Close collaboration with oncologists is critical for preventing irreversible organ damage. This review summarizes the current evidence regarding the mechanisms and management of rheumatic irAEs with focus on arthritis, myositis, and vasculitis. Based on these findings, potential therapeutic strategies against rheumatic irAEs are discussed.

Keywords: checkpoint inhibitor; immune-related adverse events; malignancy; rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / complications
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Myositis* / chemically induced
  • Myositis* / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Rheumatic Diseases* / therapy
  • Vasculitis* / drug therapy


  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors