Glial injury in neurotoxicity after pediatric CD19-directed chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapy

Academic Article


  • Objective: To test whether systemic cytokine release is associated with central nervous system inflammatory responses and glial injury in immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS) after chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy in children and young adults. Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study of clinical manifestations as well as imaging, pathology, CSF, and blood biomarkers on 43 subjects ages 1 to 25 who received CD19-directed CAR/T cells for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Results: Neurotoxicity occurred in 19 of 43 (44%) subjects. Nine subjects (21%) had CTCAE grade 3 or 4 neurological symptoms, with no neurotoxicity-related deaths. Reversible delirium, headache, decreased level of consciousness, tremor, and seizures were most commonly observed. Cornell Assessment of Pediatric Delirium (CAPD) scores ≥9 had 94% sensitivity and 33% specificity for grade ≥3 neurotoxicity, and 91% sensitivity and 72% specificity for grade ≥2 neurotoxicity. Neurotoxicity correlated with severity of cytokine release syndrome, abnormal past brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and higher peak CAR-T cell numbers in blood, but not cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF levels of S100 calcium-binding protein B and glial fibrillary acidic protein increased during neurotoxicity, indicating astrocyte injury. There were concomitant increases in CSF white blood cells, protein, interferon-γ (IFNγ), interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10, and granzyme B (GzB), with concurrent elevation of serum IFNγ IL-10, GzB, granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor, macrophage inflammatory protein 1 alpha, and tumor necrosis factor alpha, but not IL-6. We did not find direct evidence of endothelial activation. Interpretation: Our data are most consistent with ICANS as a syndrome of systemic inflammation, which affects the brain through compromise of the neurovascular unit and astrocyte injury. ANN NEUROL 2019.
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    Author List

  • Gust J; Finney OC; Li D; Brakke HM; Hicks RM; Futrell RB; Gamble DN; Rawlings-Rhea SD; Khalatbari HK; Ishak GE
  • Start Page

  • 42
  • End Page

  • 54
  • Volume

  • 86
  • Issue

  • 1