Tumor immune contexture is a determinant of anti-CD19 CAR T cell efficacy in large B cell lymphoma

Nathalie Scholler, Regis Perbost, Frederick L. Locke, Michael D. Jain, Sarah Turcan, Corinne Danan, Edmund C. Chang, Sattva S. Neelapu, David B. Miklos, Caron A. Jacobson, Lazaros J. Lekakis, Yi Lin, Armin Ghobadi, Jenny J. Kim, Justin Chou, Vicki Plaks, Zixing Wang, Allen Xue, Mike Mattie, John M. RossiAdrian Bot, Jérôme Galon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Axicabtagene ciloleucel (axi-cel) is an anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy approved for relapsed/refractory large B cell lymphoma (LBCL) and has treatment with similar efficacy across conventional LBCL subtypes. Toward patient stratification, we assessed whether tumor immune contexture influenced clinical outcomes after axi-cel. We evaluated the tumor microenvironment (TME) of 135 pre-treatment and post-treatment tumor biopsies taken from 51 patients in the ZUMA-1 phase 2 trial. We uncovered dynamic patterns that occurred within 2 weeks after axi-cel. The biological associations among Immunoscore (quantification of tumor-infiltrating T cell density), Immunosign 21 (expression of pre-defined immune gene panel) and cell subsets were validated in three independent LBCL datasets. In the ZUMA-1 trial samples, clinical response and overall survival were associated with pre-treatment immune contexture as characterized by Immunoscore and Immunosign 21. Circulating CAR T cell levels were associated with post-treatment TME T cell exhaustion. TME enriched for chemokines (CCL5 and CCL22), γ-chain receptor cytokines (IL-15, IL-7 and IL-21) and interferon-regulated molecules were associated with T cell infiltration and markers of activity. Finally, high density of regulatory T cells in pre-treatment TME associated with reduced axi-cel–related neurologic toxicity. These findings advance the understanding of LBCL TME characteristics associated with clinical responses to anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy and could foster biomarker development and treatment optimization for patients with LBCL.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1872-1882
Number of pages11
JournalNature medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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