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The implication of anti-PD-1 therapy in cancer patients for the vaccination against viral and other infectious diseases

Sruthi Vijaya Retnakumar, Camille Chauvin,
Published in Elsevier Inc.
PMID: 37001736
Volume: 245

The phenomenon of ‘T cell exhaustion’, a state of T cell dysfunction observed during chronic infections and cancers, has been a major obstacle in mounting appropriate immune responses against infectious agents or tumor antigens. The exhausted T cells are characterized by poor effector functions mainly due to the overexpression of inhibitory receptors such as programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1), cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 (CTLA-4), T cell immunoglobulin and mucin-domain containing 3 (TIM3), lymphocyte activation gene 3 (LAG3), and T cell immunoreceptor with immunoglobulin and immunoreceptor tyrosine-based inhibitory motif (ITIM) domain (TIGIT), commonly referred to as immune checkpoint (ICP) molecules. ICP blockade, especially of PD-1 that can potentially reverse T cell exhaustion and thereby re-stimulate the impaired immune system, is widely used in clinics as a promising therapeutic strategy for various cancers and is more recently being investigated in infectious diseases as well. In fact, cancer patients represent a population of immunocompromised individuals who are more susceptible to infections and associated complications, and thus the need for protective vaccinations against these diseases is of prime importance in this category. When it comes to vaccinating anti-PD-1-treated cancer patients against infectious diseases including COVID-19 and influenza, a special focus should be brought on the revived immune cells, which could be dynamically affected by the antigenic stimulation. However, since cancer patients are not generally included in clinical trials for designing vaccines against infectious diseases, the possible interaction between vaccine immune responses and ICP therapy is largely unexplored. Mechanistically, the reversal of T cell exhaustion by ICP in an otherwise immunocompromised population could be beneficial for the vaccine's efficacy, helping the immune system to mount a robust immune response. Nevertheless, patients with cancer undergoing anti-PD-1 blockade are known to experience immune-related adverse effects (irAEs). The risk of increasing the irAEs due to the overstimulation of the immune system during vaccination is a major concern. Therefore, while routine vaccination is indispensable for the protection of cancer patients, the impact of PD-1 blockade on vaccine responses against infectious agents requires careful consideration to avoid undesirable adverse effects that could impair the efficacy of anti-cancer treatment.

About the journal
JournalPharmacology & Therapeutics
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Open AccessNo