Immune checkpoint inhibitors-associated pericardial disease: a systematic review of case reports

Alessandro Inno, Nicola Maurea, Giulio Metro, Andreina Carbone, Antonio Russo, Stefania Gori

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Treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) can be complicated by cardiovascular toxicity, including pericardial disease. To date, no prospective studies specifically investigated the optimal treatment of ICI-associated pericardial disease, and the available evidence is based on case reports and series only. We performed a systematic review of case reports and series including 20 publications for a total of 28 cases of ICI-associated pericardial disease. In this review, pericardial disease was reversible in the majority of cases (75%), although 2 deaths were reported. The majority of cases were life-threatening (G4, 53.6%) or severe (G3, 21.4%), requiring pericardiocentesis. Higher rates of improvement were associated with administration of corticosteroids (86.7% vs 61.5%), presence of other immune-related adverse events (90.9% vs. 64.7%), and non-malignant effusions (86.7% vs 42.8%). ICIs were discontinued in the majority of cases and then restarted in 7 patients with no recurrence of pericardial disease. Based on these results, ICI-associated G3–G4 pericardial disease as well as G2 pericardial disease with moderate–severe effusion should be treated with ICIs discontinuation and high-dose steroids, also performing pericardiocentesis, pericardial drainage or pericardial window in case of cardiac tamponade. For G2 with small effusion or G1 pericardial disease, ICIs might be continued and colchicine or NSAIDs could be considered. For patients requiring ICIs discontinuation, a rechallenge with ICIs seems to be feasible after resolution or meaningful improvement of pericardial disease.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Immunology, Immunotherapy
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cardiac tamponade
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Pericardial effusion
  • Pericarditis
  • Rechallenge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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