Review article: immune checkpoint inhibitors and the liver, from therapeutic efficacy to side effects

Andrea Lombardi, Mario U. Mondelli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Immune checkpoint inhibitors have revolutionised the oncological landscape in the last few years. Possible applications include the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma. Unfortunately, new immune-related adverse effects have been associated with the use of these agents and the liver is one of the organs most frequently involved. Aims: To provide a general overview of the potential impact of immune checkpoint inhibitors on the liver. Methods: We reviewed the literature and abstracts/presentations on immune checkpoint inhibitors at most relevant hepatology meetings over the last 5 years. Results: The role of immune checkpoint inhibitors has been investigated both for the treatment of viral hepatitis and primary liver cancer. Hepatocellular carcinoma and chronic hepatitis B show the greatest potential for treatment with these drugs in the near future. However, immune-related adverse events involving the liver are a growing concern related to their widespread use. Conclusions: Immune checkpoint inhibitors represent an exciting new class of drugs with currently limited application in malignant and non-malignant liver disease. Caution must be exercised on the emergence of potentially severe immune adverse reactions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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