Exacerbation of CMV and Nontuberculous Mycobacterial Infections Following PD-1 Blockade for HIV-Associated Kaposi Sarcoma

Ifeanyichukwu U. Anidi, Shunsuke Sakai, Kelsie Brooks, Steven P. Fling, Michael J. Wagner, Kathryn Lurain, Cecilia S. Lindestam Arlehamn, Alessandro Sette, Kenneth S. Knox, Jason M. Brenchley, Thomas S. Uldrick, Elad Sharon, Daniel L. Barber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Blockade of the co-inhibitory receptor PD-1 enhances antitumor responses by boosting the function of antigen-specific T cells. Although rare, PD-1 blockade in patients with cancer can lead to exacerbation of infection-associated pathology. Here, we detail the case of a 38-year-old man who was enrolled in a clinical trial for assessment of the safety and activity of anti–PD-1 therapy for Kaposi sarcoma in people with HIV well-controlled on antiretroviral therapy. Less than a week after receiving the first dose of anti–PD-1 antibody (pembrolizumab), he presented with severe abdominal pain associated with sudden exacerbations of preexisting cytomegalovirus (CMV) enteritis and nontuberculous mycobacterial mesenteric lymphadenitis. Plasma biomarkers of gastrointestinal tract damage were highly elevated compared with healthy controls, consistent with HIV-associated loss of gut epithelial barrier integrity. Moreover, CMV-specific CD8 T cells expressed high levels of PD-1, and 7 days following PD-1 blockade, there was an increase in the frequency of activated CD38+ Ki67+ CMV-specific CD8 T cells. This case highlights the potential for PD-1 blockade to drive rapid exacerbations of inflammatory symptoms when administered to individuals harboring multiple unresolved infections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberae183
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024


  • CMV
  • HIV
  • immune checkpoint inhibition
  • nontuberculous mycobacteria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Infectious Diseases


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