Releasing the brake: safety profile of immune check-point inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer

Carlo Genova, Giovanni Rossi, Erika Rijavec, Federica Biello, Giulia Barletta, Marco Tagliamento, Francesco Grossi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Immune check-point inhibitors are now employed as single-agents in current practice for the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), while combinations of different inhibitors are being evaluated in clinical trials. Although the safety profile of these compounds, with particular reference to drugs targeting programmed death protein 1 (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1), is generally considered manageable, peculiar, immune-related toxicities may onset. Areas covered: This review focuses on the immune-related adverse events (irAEs) observed during immune check-point blockade in NSCLC and their management. The authors report the incidence of irAEs based on the currently available data involving NSCLC and provide recommendations on the general approach to irAEs, as well as indications for the most relevant site-specific events. Expert opinion: Since irAEs may involve a wide range of organs and systems and are potentially reversible if promptly treated, early diagnosis should always be achieved; this might be particularly challenging when other potential causes of toxicity are suspected, such as infections or concurrent treatments. Finally, drugs active on the PD-1/PD-L1 axis appear to be generally manageable even when they are administered to patients with relevant comorbidities, provided that adequate clinical monitoring is performed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-585
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 4 2017


  • immune check-point inhibitor
  • immune-related adverse events
  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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