Autoimmunity, checkpoint inhibitor therapy and immune-related adverse events: A review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Immune checkpoint inhibitors have emerged as a remarkable treatment option for diverse cancer types. However, a significant number of patients on checkpoint inhibitors develop immune-related adverse events (irAEs) affecting a wide variety of organs. These events, which may reflect enhanced T cell activation, are unpredictable, heterogeneous, and in some instances permanent or life-threatening. It is not clear whether these toxicities are distinct from conventional autoimmune diseases or whether the manifestation of irAEs is associated with therapeutic efficacy. Studies across the spectrum of basic, preclinical and clinical research deciphering the role of genetics, epigenetics, gut microbiota and underlying immune status of patients who develop irAEs are required to gain a deeper mechanistic understanding. Insights gained from such studies will facilitate identification of biomarkers for optimal treatment and clinical management of patients. In this Review, we provide basic and clinical understanding of immune checkpoint inhibitors and irAEs. We discuss the connection between immune system, autoimmunity and cancer; immune checkpoint inhibitors and associated autoimmune toxicities; insights into potential underlying mechanisms of irAEs; impact of autoimmune diagnosis on cancer outcome; and management of irAEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Autoimmunity
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immunotherapy
  • Toxicity and irAEs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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