Vol 15, No 3 (2021)
Review paper
Published online: 2021-07-05

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The impact of antibiotics and glucocorticoids on the results of immunomodulatory antibody treatment in cancer patients

Izabela Łasińska12, Wojciech Leppert3
DOI: 10.5603/PMPI.2021.0015
Palliat Med Pract 2021;15(3):233-240.


Cancer cells avoid elimination through the mechanism of immunosuppression, which consists in modulating
antigens and affecting the activation of the complement system. In 2011, authorities registered
a monoclonal antibody and the first medication from the group of immunological checkpoints, ipilimumab,
which activates T lymphocytes through unblocking the possibility of presenting antigens to cells after
binding with cytotoxic T cell antigen (CTLA-4 ). Other targets of the drugs from this group were described:
programmed death cell receptor 1 (PD-1), located on T lymphocytes, and programmed death cell ligand 1
(PD-L1), located on cancer cells. Immunotherapy significantly improved the prognosis of patients diagnosed
with melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinomas of the head and neck, non-small
cell lung cancer and other cancers

Glucocorticoids are often used in the treatment of symptoms in cancer patients. They are also administered
during immunotherapy in the case of immune-related adverse events. Antibiotics also constitute a group of
medications that are widely used in cancer patients. Since both glucocorticoids and antibiotics can decrease
the effectiveness of immunotherapy, physicians should carefully consider the expected benefits and the possible
negative impact of their administration on the survival time of cancer patients before prescribing them.

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