Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors for Brain Metastases

  • Aaron C. Tan
  • Amy B. Heimberger
  • Alexander M. Menzies
  • Nick Pavlakis
  • Mustafa KhasrawEmail author
Neuro-oncology (S Nagpal, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Neuro-oncology


Purpose of Review

Metastasis of cancer to the brain typically portends a poor prognosis and often results in significant morbidity, including from the side effects of treatment. More effective therapies for patients with brain metastases are needed. The current treatment paradigm uses multiple modalities, including surgery, radiation, and in some contexts, systemic chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Immune checkpoint inhibitors are increasingly being used to treat extracranial disease, and their effectiveness in the management of brain metastases needs to be understood.

Recent Findings

The evidence for immune checkpoint inhibitors in the management of brain metastases is largely limited to retrospective analyses of melanoma metastases and ipilimumab. Prospective clinical trials of more active agents are under way, and tentative results suggest activity.


Immune checkpoint inhibitors have the potential to improve outcomes in patients with brain metastases. Results of current clinical trials will aid in determining the appropriate sequence or combination of local and systemic therapies.


Brain metastases Immune checkpoint inhibitors 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Aaron C. Tan declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Amy B. Heimberger has received clinical trial funding from Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) and owns stock and serves on the advisory board of Caris Life Sciences.

Alexander M. Menzies has received honoraria from Bristol-Myers Squibb and Novartis, and serves on advisory boards for MSD and Chugai.

Nick Pavlakis has received honoraria from Specialized Therapeutics, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, Merck-Serono, AstraZeneca, Amgen, Novartis, and Pfizer, and has served on advisory boards for Specialized Therapeutics, Pfizer, Novartis, Amgen, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche, and Sanofi-Aventis.

Mustafa Khasraw has received research funding from AbbVie and Specialised Therapeutics Australia (STA), and serves on the advisory board of AbbVie, STA, and Eli Lilly.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Paper of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: •Of importance •• Of the major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aaron C. Tan
    • 1
  • Amy B. Heimberger
    • 2
  • Alexander M. Menzies
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Nick Pavlakis
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mustafa Khasraw
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Royal North Shore HospitalSt LeonardsAustralia
  2. 2.University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer CentreHoustonUSA
  3. 3.The University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  4. 4.Melanoma Institute AustraliaWollstonecraftAustralia
  5. 5.National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials CentreUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

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