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The risks of targeting co-inhibitory pathways to modulate pathogen-directed T cell responses

Helge Frebel, Annette Oxenius

The identification of T cell co-inhibition as a central mechanism in the regulation of adaptive immunity during infectious diseases provides new opportunities for immunotherapeutic interventions. However, the fact that T cell activity is frequently downregulated during pathogen-directed responses suggests a pivotal physiological role of co-inhibitory pathways during infectious disease. Reports of exacerbated immunopathology in conditions of impaired co-inhibition foster the view that downregulation of T cell activity is an essential negative feedback mechanism that protects from excessive pathogen-directed immunity. Thus, targeting co-inhibitory pathways can bear detrimental potential through the deregulation of physiological processes. Here, we summarize recent preclinical and clinical interventions that report immune-related adverse events after targeting co-inhibitory pathways.