Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors in Challenging Populations

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Immune checkpoint inhibitors, including those targeting the programmed cell death 1/programmed cell death ligand 1 and cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen 4 pathways, are revolutionizing cancer therapeutics. Both activity and toxicities largely stem from unleashing tumor- or host-specific cytotoxic T cells. Many patients seen in routine clinical practice have not qualified for or have been seriously underrepresented in immune checkpoint inhibitor clinical trials. Thus, a major gap in knowledge regarding the safety and efficacy of these agents persists in many populations, even after regulatory approval. To address this challenge, this review aggregates and synthesizes the available preclinical and clinical data surrounding immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy in challenging clinical populations to assist both academic and community oncologists in treatment decision making. Specifically, this review focuses on the safety and activity of immune checkpoint inhibitors in patients with autoimmune disorders, organ transplant patients, patients with chronic viral infections, patients with ongoing immunosuppressant use, patients with organ dysfunction, pregnant patients, patients with brain metastases, patients at extremes of age, and patients with an impaired functional status.

Immune checkpoint inhibitors provide durable responses for many patients with cancer, but they have not been extensively tested in many patient populations. This article reviews the safety and activity of these agents in challenging patient populations, including patients with autoimmune diseases, patients with organ dysfunction, patients at extremes of age, pregnant patients, and patients with brain metastases.

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