To explore the role of clonal hematopoiesis (CH) in chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy outcomes, we performed targeted deep sequencing on buffy coats collected during the 21 days before lymphodepleting chemotherapy from 114 large B-cell lymphoma patients treated with anti-CD19 CAR T cells. We detected CH in 42 (36.8%) pretreatment samples, most frequently in PPM1D (19/114) and TP53 (13/114) genes. Grade ≥3 immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS) incidence was higher in CH-positive patients than CH-negative patients (45.2% vs. 25.0%, P = 0.038). Higher toxicities with CH were primarily associated with DNMT3A, TET2, and ASXL1 genes (DTA mutations). Grade ≥3 ICANS (58.9% vs. 25%, P = 0.02) and ≥3 cytokine release syndrome (17.7% vs. 4.2%, P = 0.08) incidences were higher in DTA-positive than in CH-negative patients. The estimated 24-month cumulative incidence of therapy-related myeloid neoplasms after CAR T-cell therapy was higher in CH-positive than CH-negative patients [19% (95% CI, 5.5–38.7) vs. 4.2% (95% CI, 0.3–18.4), P = 0.028].
Our study reveals that CH mutations, especially those associated with inflammation (DNMT3A, TET2, and ASXL1), are associated with severe-grade neurotoxicities in lymphoma patients receiving anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy. Further studies to investigate the mechanisms and interventions to improve toxicities in the context of CH are warranted.