Background: Anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy has demonstrated high response rates in patients with relapsed or refractory (r/r) B cell malignancies but is associated with significant toxicity. Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) is the most significant complication associated with CAR T cell therapy, and it is critical to have a reproducible and easy method to grade CRS after CAR T cell infusions.
Discussion: The Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events scale is inadequate for grading CRS associated with cellular therapy. Clinical experience with the anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy tisagenlecleucel at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) was used to develop the Penn grading scale for CRS. The Penn grading scale depends on easily accessible clinical features; does not rely on location of care or quantitation of supportive care; assigns grades to guide CRS management; distinguishes between mild, moderate, severe, and life-threatening CRS; and applies to both early-onset and delayed-onset CRS associated with T cell therapies. Clinical data from 55 pediatric patients with r/r B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia and 42 patients with r/r chronic lymphocytic lymphoma treated with tisagenlecleucel were used to demonstrate the current application of the Penn grading scale.
Conclusion: We show that the Penn grading scale provides reproducible CRS grading that can be useful to guide therapy and that can be applied across clinical trials and treatment platforms.
Keywords: CAR T cell therapy; Cytokine release syndrome; Safety.