The renal adverse effects of cancer immunotherapy


Over the past decade, the development and clinical use of immunotherapy agents has increased exponentially. As clinical experience builds with these agents so too does our understanding of the associated adverse effects. In particular, the effects of immunotherapy on the kidneys, individual nephrons, and kidney function remain less well described than the adverse effects on barrier organ systems such as the gastrointestinal tract and skin. However, phase IV post-marketing surveillance and clinical case studies together with basic research has begun to reveal mechanisms by which immunotherapy mediates renal adverse effects. This work may lead to improvements in treatment guidelines and therapy. These advances are particularly important as post-cancer survival increases leaving patients to cope with the consequences of not only the cancer, but the short- and long-term adverse effects of treatment. Here we discuss the major renal adverse effects encountered with individual immunotherapeutic agents, putative mechanisms, their current management, and how cancer survivorship programs can help patients who have been treated with immunotherapy.