Association of antibiotic treatment with immune-related adverse events in patients with cancer receiving immunotherapy

Ying Jing, Xue Chen, Kunyan Li, Yaoming Liu, Zhao Zhang, Yiqing Chen, Yuan Liu, Yushu Wang, Steven H. Lin, Lixia Diao, Jing Wang, Yanyan Lou, Douglas B. Johnson, Xiang Chen, Hong Liu, Leng Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background To determine whether antibiotic treatment is a risk factor for immune-related adverse events (irAEs) across different patients with cancer receiving anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapies. Methods The retrospective analysis includes clinical information from 767 patients with cancer treated at Hunan Cancer Hospital from 2017 to 2020. The pharmacovigilance data analysis includes individual cases of 38,705 safety reports from the US Food and Drug Administration Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) from 2014 to 2020, and 25,122 cases of safety reports from the World Health Organization database VigiBase from 2014 to 2019. All cases that received anti-PD-1/PD-L1 treatment were included. Multiomics data from patients across 25 cancer types were download from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Logistic regression and propensity score algorithm was employed to calculate OR of irAEs. Results Retrospective analysis of in-house patients showed that irAE potential risks are higher in all cancer (OR 2.12, 95% CI 1.38 to 3.22, false discovery rate (FDR) adjusted-p=1.93×10-3) and patients with lung cancer (OR 3.16, 95% CI 1.67 to 5.95, FDR adjusted-p=1.93×10-3) when using antibiotics. Potential risk of irAEs in patients with lung cancer with antibiotic treatment is significantly higher in FAERS (OR 1.39, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.59; FDR adjusted-p=1.62×10-5) and VigiBase (OR 1.32, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.59, FDR adjusted-p=0.05). Mechanistically, decreased microbial diversity caused by antibiotics use may increase the irAE risk through mediating the irAE-related factors. Conclusions Our study is the first to comprehensively demonstrate the associations of irAEs and antibiotic during anti-PD-1/PD-L1 therapy across a wide spectrum of cancers by analyzing multisource data. Administration of antibiotics should be carefully evaluated in patients with cancer treated by anti-PD-1/PD-L1 to avoid potentially increasing irAE risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere003779
JournalJournal for ImmunoTherapy of Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2022


  • computational biology
  • immunotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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