Severe mesenteric ischemia with multiple organ failure in a patient previously treated with a humanized monoclonal antibody against programmed death receptor-1 (pembrolizumab), a case of pembrolizumab associated catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome?

E M W Mintjens-Jager, M E Vos, G Kats-Ugurlu, G A P Hospers, A Rutgers, M van Meurs

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Immune checkpoint inhibitors are used in the treatment of different types of tumors including melanoma and non-small cell lung carcinoma. The use of these inhibitors is associated with a broad spectrum of immune-related adverse effects. Here we report a case of a patient admitted to the intensive care unit with multiple organ failure due to catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome following treatment with pembrolizumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, because of metastatic melanoma. The presented patient had multiple organ failure of lung, gastro-intestinal, renal, and the liver. Vascular thrombosis was confirmed by both imaging (pulmonary embolism on computed tomography-thorax) and histopathological examination of the intestines. In combination with the presence of IgA anti-cardiolipin antibodies and initially IgM anti-cardiolipin antibodies, catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome was suspected. Despite treatment with plasmapheresis and corticosteroids, the patient died due to multiple organ failure. Catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome is difficult to recognize and has high mortality rates despite supportive treatment. In this case report, discussion is provided regarding the possible immunological mechanism behind catastrophic antiphospholipid syndrome during or after treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors. It is important to realize that in modern intensive care unit, more patients with immune-related adverse effects of the treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors will be admitted, because of an increase in the number of patients treated with these checkpoint inhibitors. When these patients are admitted on the intensive care unit, multi-disciplinary consultation is important because of the difficulty of early recognition and optimal treatment of these possible lethal side effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2050313X20972225
Number of pages7
JournalSAGE open medical case reports
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2020

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