Immunotherapies linked to specific heart complications

Immunotherapies linked to specific heart complications

In the first large-scale analysis of cardiovascular complications linked to immune checkpoint inhibitors, Vanderbilt researchers have shown that heart and vessel complications include myocarditis, pericarditis, vasculitis and arrhythmias, and that they occur early in the course of treatment.


The study, published online Nov. 12 in The Lancet Oncology, augments previous work by Vanderbilt University Medical Center researchers who first reported in 2016 rare but fatal cardiac side effects from the most widely prescribed class of immunotherapies. The researchers used VigiBase, a global database of drug complications maintained by the World Health Organization, to track adverse cardiovascular reactions in the latest study.


“When the immune system wakes up to attack the cancer cells, in rare situations it can also attack the heart and vessels, and in some cases, this can result in fatalities,” said Joe-Elie Salem, MD, PhD, a Vanderbilt Cardio-Oncology Fellow and the study’s first author.