BACKGROUND: CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has proven to be highly effective in patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas, yielding early complete response (CR) rates of ~40%, which are typically sustained. Unfortunately, most patients will not experience prolonged disease control. Despite this fact, little data exist defining the outcomes and impact of subsequent therapies for such individuals. Limited data also exist on the ability for such patients to pursue further clinical trials or allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplant (HSCT). This project details the specific interventions and outcomes of this population to better inform the management of patients who suffer progressive disease (PD) after CD19-specific CAR T-cell therapy.

METHODS: Adults with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), transformed follicular lymphoma (tFL), primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBCL), and high-grade B-cell lymphomas (HGBCL) who received CD19-specific CAR T-cells at the University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance were included in this analysis. Patients who received CAR T-cell therapy in conjunction with additional protocol-specified therapy were excluded. Those who exhibited PD or persistent lymphoma after CAR T-cell therapy were the focus of this study. We defined initial PD as patients who had evidence of disease progression on the initial response assessment. Delayed PD was defined as achieving a CR, partial response (PR), or stable disease (SD) on the initial response assessment, but eventually progressed or received subsequent anti-lymphoma therapy. Baseline characteristics and all data were retrieved from the electronic medical record up until date of death or date of last contact in our system, including subsequent interventions and outcomes. Primary endpoint of this analysis was overall survival (OS).

RESULTS: Between October 2013 and May 2018, we identified 51 patients with PD following CD19-specific CAR T-cell therapy. Baseline characteristics are listed in the Table 1. Histologies included DLBCL (29), HGBCL (11), tFL (8) and PMBCL (3). Median age was 60 years (range 26-75), 65% were male, median prior regimens was 3 (range 1-8). Median time from CAR T infusion to PD was 42 days (range 11-609), with 27 (53%) patients exhibiting initial PD. Median follow up after time of progression was 4.2 months. Initial PD was associated with a higher risk of death (HR 2.376, 95% CI 1.19-4.75, p=0.0143, Figure 1). The median OS for those with initial PD and delayed PD was 5.1 months (95% CI 2.0-9.3) and 13.6 months (4.1-not reached) respectively. 39 (76%) patients received ≥ 1 subsequent therapies after PD. Initial therapies included: 2nd CAR T infusion (14), targeted therapy (10), chemotherapy +/- rituximab (7), other immunotherapy (3), radiotherapy (3), intrathecal chemotherapy (1) and allogeneic HSCT (1). 12 (24%) patients received no further therapy despite PD. Those who received ≥ 1 subsequent therapies after PD had a lower risk of death (HR 0.344, 95% CI 0.149-0.793, P=0.0122) compared to those who did not. There was no difference in survival if 2nd CAR T infusion was the next line therapy compared to others (p=0.449), targeted therapy compared to others (p=0.417), or chemotherapy compared to others (p=0.565). 5 (10%) patients enrolled onto a clinical trial as next line therapy. 4 (8%) patients eventually received an allogeneic HSCT after PD, 2 of whom are still alive. We identified 8 patients who were alive for ≥ 12 months after progression without evidence of lymphoma. Last line of therapy for these patients included allogeneic HSCT (2), subsequent CD19-specific CAR-T cell infusion (2), ibrutinib (2), lenalidomide/rituximab (1), and radiotherapy (1).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with PD post anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy, particularly those exhibiting initial PD, have poor long-term outcomes. Patients receiving at least one anti-lymphoma therapy after PD had improved overall survival, although no single approach appeared to confer a survival benefit. Few enrolled onto a clinical trial or received an allogeneic HSCT. These data reinforce the need to both further improve the durable CR rate after CAR T-cell therapy and to develop effective strategies for those not achieving a CR.


Gopal:Spectrum: Research Funding; Pfizer: Research Funding; BMS: Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Consultancy, Research Funding; Merck: Research Funding; Takeda: Research Funding; Brim: Consultancy; Janssen: Consultancy, Research Funding; Asana: Consultancy; Gilead: Consultancy, Research Funding; Aptevo: Consultancy; Incyte: Consultancy; Teva: Research Funding. Maloney:Juno Therapeutics: Research Funding; Roche/Genentech: Honoraria; Janssen Scientific Affairs: Honoraria; Seattle Genetics: Honoraria; GlaxoSmithKline: Research Funding. Turtle:Caribou Biosciences: Consultancy; Adaptive Biotechnologies: Consultancy; Nektar Therapeutics: Consultancy, Research Funding; Bluebird Bio: Consultancy; Precision Biosciences: Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Juno Therapeutics / Celgene: Consultancy, Patents & Royalties, Research Funding; Eureka Therapeutics: Equity Ownership, Membership on an entity's Board of Directors or advisory committees; Aptevo: Consultancy; Gilead: Consultancy. Smith:Genentech: Research Funding; Acerta Pharma BV: Research Funding; Incyte Corporation: Research Funding; Merck Sharp and Dohme Corp.: Consultancy, Research Funding; Pharmacyclics: Research Funding; Portola Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding; Seattle Genetics: Research Funding. Shadman:TG Therapeutics: Research Funding; Mustang Biopharma: Research Funding; Acerta Pharma: Research Funding; AstraZeneca: Consultancy; Verastem: Consultancy; Gilead Sciences: Research Funding; AbbVie: Consultancy; Qilu Puget Sound Biotherapeutics: Consultancy; Beigene: Research Funding; Genentech: Research Funding; Pharmacyclics: Research Funding; Genentech: Consultancy; Celgene: Research Funding. Cassaday:Seattle Genetics: Other: Spouse Employment, Research Funding; Incyte: Research Funding; Jazz Pharmaceuticals: Consultancy; Pfizer: Consultancy, Research Funding; Kite Pharma: Research Funding; Merck: Research Funding; Amgen: Consultancy, Research Funding; Adaptive Biotechnologies: Consultancy. Till:Mustang Bio: Patents & Royalties, Research Funding. Shustov:Seattle Genetics: Research Funding. Acharya:Juno Therapeutics: Research Funding; Teva: Honoraria. Lynch:Takeda Pharmaceuticals: Research Funding; T.G. Therapeutics: Research Funding; Rhizen Pharmaceuticals S.A.: Research Funding; Johnson Graffe Keay Moniz & Wick LLP: Consultancy; Incyte Corporation: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

This icon denotes a clinically relevant abstract

Sign in via your Institution