• Despite the high initial rates of response to anti-BCMA CAR-T cell therapy in myeloma, those responses are frequently short-lived.

  • Exhausted CD4+ CAR-T cells, identified by single cell assays in the patients' blood and marrow, are linked to early relapse.

Multiple myeloma is characterized by frequent clinical relapses following conventional therapy. Recently, chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR-T) cells targeting B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA) has been established as a treatment option for patients with relapsed or refractory disease. However, while >70% of patients initially respond to this treatment, clinical relapse and disease progression occur in most cases. Recent studies showed persistent expression of BCMA at the time of relapse, indicating that immune intrinsic mechanisms may contribute to this resistance. While there were no pre-existing T cell features associated with clinical outcomes, we found that patients with a durable response to CAR-T cell treatment had greater persistence of their CAR-T cells compared to patients with transient clinical responses. They also possessed a significantly higher proportion of CD8+ T effector memory cells. In contrast, patients with short-lived responses to treatment have increased frequencies of cytotoxic CD4+ CAR-T cells. These cells expand in vivo early after infusion but express exhaustion markers (HAVCR2 and TIGIT) and remain polyclonal. Finally, we demonstrate that non-classical monocytes are enriched in the myeloma niche and may induce CAR-T cell dysfunction through mechanisms that include TGFβ. These findings shed new light on the role of cytotoxic CD4+ T cells in disease progression after CAR-T cell therapy.

This content is only available as a PDF.
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0), permitting only noncommercial, nonderivative use with attribution. All other rights reserved.

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview

Supplemental data