A 72-year-old man with no history of diabetes was referred to our department due to hyperglycemia during pembrolizumab treatment for non-small-cell lung carcinoma. His blood glucose level was 209 mg/dL, but he was not in a state of ketosis or ketoacidosis. Serum C-peptide levels persisted at first, but gradually decreased, and 18 days later, he was admitted to our hospital with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The patient was diagnosed with fulminant type 1 diabetes (FT1D) induced by pembrolizumab. According to the literature, the insulin secretion capacity of a patient with type 1 diabetes (T1D) induced by anti-programmed cell death-1 (anti-PD-1) antibody is depleted in approximately 2 to 3 weeks, which is longer than that of typical FT1D. Patients with hyperglycemia and C-peptide persistence should be considered for hospitalization or frequent outpatient visits with insulin treatment because these could indicate the onset of life-threatening FT1D induced by anti-PD-1 antibodies. Based on the clinical course of this patient and the literature, we suggest monitoring anti-PD-1 antibody-related T1D.
- Immune checkpoint inhibitors, such as anti-PD-1 antibodies, are increasingly used as anticancer drugs. Anti-PD-1 antibodies can cause immune-related adverse events, including T1D.
- FT1D, a novel subtype of T1D, is characterized by the abrupt onset of hyperglycemia with ketoacidosis, a relatively low glycated hemoglobin level and depletion of C-peptide level at onset.
- In patients being treated with anti-PD-1 antibody, hyperglycemia with C-peptide level persistence should be monitored through regular blood tests. Because of C-peptide persistence and mild hyperglycemia, it is possible to miss a diagnosis of life-threatening FT1D induced by anti-PD-1 antibody.
- In particular, in patients who have no history of diabetes, hyperglycemia without DKA is likely to be the very beginning of anti-PD-1 antibody-induced T1D. Therefore, such patients must be considered for either hospitalization or frequent outpatient visits with insulin injections and self-monitoring of blood glucose.