Immune checkpoint (IC) proteins are some of the most important factors that tumor cells hijack to escape immune surveillance, and inhibiting ICs to enhance or relieve antitumor immunity has been proven efficient in tumor treatment. Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) agents such as antibodies blocking programmed death (PD) 1, PD-1 ligand (PD-L) 1, and cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen (CTLA)-4 have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat several types of cancers. Although ICB agents have shown outstanding clinical success, and their application has continued to expand to additional tumor types in the past decade, immune-related adverse events (irAEs) have been observed in a wide range of patients who receive ICB treatment. Numerous studies have focused on the clinical manifestations and pathology of ICB-related irAEs, but the detailed mechanisms underlying irAEs remain largely unknown. Owing to the wide expression of IC molecules on distinct immune cell subpopulations and the fact that ICB agents generally affect IC-expressing cells, the influences of ICB agents on immune cells in irAEs need to be determined. Here, we discuss the expression and functions of IC proteins on distinct immune cells and the potential mechanism(s) related to ICB-targeted immune cell subsets in irAEs.

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