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Complications associated with immunotherapy for brain metastases

Tran, Thuy T.a,b; Jilaveanu, Lucia B.a,b; Omuro, Antonioa,b,c; Chiang, Veronica L.a,b,d; Huttner, Anitab,e; Kluger, Harriet M.a,b

doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000756
NEOPLASMS: Edited by Antonio Omuro

Purpose of review Median survival after the diagnosis of brain metastases has historically been on the order of months. With the recent development of immune checkpoint inhibitors, intracranial activity and durable responses have been observed in brain metastases on multiple phase 2 clinical trials, which have primarily been conducted in patients with melanoma. Immune-related adverse events related to checkpoint inhibitor therapy of brain metastasis can present unique challenges for the clinician and underscore the need for a multidisciplinary team in the care of these patients. The goal of this review is to address the current knowledge, limitations of understanding, and future directions in research regarding immune therapy trials and neurologic toxicities based on retrospective, prospective, and case studies.

Recent findings Immune therapy has the potential to exacerbate symptomatic edema and increase the risk of radiation necrosis in previously irradiated lesions. Neurologic toxicities will likely increase in prevalence as more patients with brain metastatic disease are eligible for immune therapy.

Summary An improved understanding and heightened awareness of the unique neurologic toxicities that impact this patient group is vital for mitigating treatment-related morbidity and mortality.

aYale Cancer Center

bYale Brain Tumor Center

cDepartment of Neurology

dDepartment of Neurosurgery

eDepartment of Pathology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence to Antonio Omuro, Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, 15 York Street, New Haven, CT 06510, USA. Tel: +1 203 243 4951; e-mail:

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights resereved.