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P04.01 Immunomonitoring of CD19. CAR T-cells in Large B-Cell Lymphoma- a two-center experience
  1. V Blumenberg1,2,3,
  2. S Völkl4,5,
  3. G Busch2,
  4. S Baumann2,
  5. M Winkelmann6,
  6. B Tast1,2,
  7. D Nixdorf2,
  8. G Hänel2,
  9. L Frölich1,3,
  10. C Schmidt1,
  11. R Jitschin4,5,
  12. F Vettermann7,
  13. W Kunz6,
  14. D Mougiakakos4,5,
  15. M von Bergwelt1,3,
  16. V Bücklein1,2,
  17. A Mackensen4,5 and
  18. M Subklewe1,2,3
  1. 1Department of Medicine III, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
  2. 2Gene Center of the LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
  3. 3German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine 5 – Hematology/Oncology, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
  5. 5Deutsches Zentrum für Immuntherapie (DZI), University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany
  6. 6Department of Radiology, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany
  7. 7Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Hospital, LMU Munich, Munich, Germany


Background CD19. CAR T-cells for the treatment of relapsed and refractory (r/r) Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) demonstrated complete responses in 40%-58% of the patients. Recently, others could associate high tumor volume and low CAR T-cell expansion in vivo with poor outcome. We hypothesize, that the expansion and immunphenotype of (CAR) T cells in vivo determine treatment response and depend on patient- and disease associated factors.

Materials and Methods Patients with r/r DLBCL (n=34) were treated with either Axi-cel or Tisa-cel at the University Hospitals of Erlangen and Munich (LMU). The CAR T-cell product and peripheral blood were collected on day 0, 4, 7, 14, 30, 60 and 90 post transfusion. CAR T-cells were detected through flow cytometry utilizing a two step-staining with a biotinylated CD19 protein. Effector:Target (E:T) Ratios were estimated as absolute peak expansion of CAR T-cells (/ul) per tumorvolume (cm3). Responder (R, complete or partial remission) were compared to Non-Responder (NR, stable or progressive disease) according to response assessment with PET-CT three months after transfusion.

Results CAR T-cell expansion peaked between day 7 and day 14 after transfusion with a greater expansion of CD8+compared to CD8- CAR T-cells on day 14 (59.27% vs 37.42%, p=0.021). The ratio of CD8+ and CD8- CAR T-cells did not differ between R and NR, however R exhibited higher E:T ratios of CD3+ CAR T-cells compared to NR (20.94 vs 12.81, p=0.015) and an increased E:T ratio of CD8+ CAR T-cells correlated with better progression-free survival (p=0.033). Interestingly, high CRP and ferritin levels at baseline were inversely associated with the E:T ratio (p=0.048 and p=0.017). CD3+ CAR T-cells of R showed earlier peak expression of PD-1 than NR (day 7 vs day 21). Further, peak expansion of CD3+ CAR T-cells correlated with higher PD-1 expression in R but not in NR (p=0.003 vs p=0.12). In addition, R revealed an increased relative frequency of effector memory differentiated CD3+ CAR T-cells (CCR7-CD45RA-, p=0.02), whereas CAR T-cells in NR showed an increased relative frequency of a naïve phenotype (CCR7+CD45RA+, p=0.001) on day 7 post infusion.

Conclusions Flow-based immunomonitoring with longitudinal characterization of CAR T-cells demonstrated a correlation of the E:T ratio with treatment response and survival. Increased inflammatory conditions at baseline correlated with diminished E:T ratios. Notably, in R CAR peak expansion was positively associated with higher PD-1 expression suggestive for superior CAR T-cell activation. In addition, greater memory differentiation was associated with efficacy during the time of peak expansion. Multiparameter analysis with other clinical covariates will show, whether CAR T-cell expansion and immunphenotypes can predict patient outcome.

Disclosure Information V. Blumenberg: B. Research Grant (principal investigator, collaborator or consultant and pending grants as well as grants already received); Significant; Novartis, Gilead Sciences, Janssen, BMS/Celgene. S. Völkl: None. G. Busch: None. S. Baumann: None. M. Winkelmann: None. B. Tast: None. D. Nixdorf: None. G. Hänel: None. L. Frölich: None. C. Schmidt: None. R. Jitschin: None. F. Vettermann: None. W. Kunz: None. D. Mougiakakos: None. M. von Bergwelt: None. V. Bücklein: None. A. Mackensen: None. M. Subklewe: None.

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