Purpose of review
In recent years, we have witnessed a remarkable surge in the clinical development of effective biological and cellular therapies for the treatment of neoplastic and autoimmune disorders. The present review summarizes our understanding of the pathogen-specific infection risk associated with the use of such therapies.
A variety of biologics, in the form of either monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) or small molecule kinase inhibitors (Nibs), are continuously introduced in the clinic for the management of autoimmune and malignant diseases. In addition, cellular therapies such as the infusion of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are becoming increasingly available for patients with treatment-refractory lymphoid malignancies. Some of these biological and cellular interventions exert direct or indirect adverse effects on the induction of protective immune responses against various pathogens, resulting in heightened infection susceptibility.
The introduction of biological and cellular therapies for the treatment of malignant and autoimmune diseases has been associated with increased infection susceptiblity, which varies greatly depending on the specific immunomodulatory therapy, the infecting pathogen and the recipient patient population. A high index of clinical suspicion and efforts aiming at early diagnosis, targeted vaccination or prophylaxis, and prompt initiation of antimicrobial treatment should help improve infection outcomes.