A subset of patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) treated with CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy have poor clinical outcomes. We report serum proteins associated with severe immune-mediated toxicities and inferior clinical responses in 146 patients with DLBCL treated with axicabtagene ciloleucel. We develop a simple stratification based on pre-lymphodepletion C reactive protein (CRP) and ferritin to classify patients into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups. We observe that patients in the high-risk category were more likely to develop grade ≥3 toxicities and had inferior overall and progression-free survival. We sought to validate our findings with two independent international cohorts demonstrating that patients classified as low-risk have excellent efficacy and safety outcomes. Based on routine and readily available laboratory tests that can be obtained prior to lymphodepleting chemotherapy, this simple risk stratification can inform patient selection for CAR T-cell therapy.
CAR T-cell therapy has changed the treatment paradigm for patients with relapsed/refractory hematologic malignancies. Despite encouraging efficacy, a subset of patients have poor clinical outcomes. We show that a simple clinically applicable model using pre-lymphodepletion CRP and ferritin can identify patients at high risk of poor outcomes.