Gene-expression profiling of bortezomib added to standard chemoimmunotherapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (REMoDL-B): an open-label, randomised, phase 3 trial

Lancet Oncol. 2019 May;20(5):649-662. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(18)30935-5. Epub 2019 Apr 1.


Background: Biologically distinct subtypes of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma can be identified using gene-expression analysis to determine their cell of origin, corresponding to germinal centre or activated B cell. We aimed to investigate whether adding bortezomib to standard therapy could improve outcomes in patients with these subtypes.

Methods: In a randomised evaluation of molecular guided therapy for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with bortezomib (REMoDL-B), an open-label, adaptive, randomised controlled, phase 3 superiority trial, participants were recruited from 107 cancer centres in the UK (n=94) and Switzerland (n=13). Eligible patients had previously untreated, histologically confirmed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with sufficient diagnostic material from initial biopsies for gene-expression profiling and pathology review; were aged 18 years or older; had ECOG performance status of 2 or less; had bulky stage I or stage II-IV disease requiring full-course chemotherapy; had measurable disease; and had cardiac, lung, renal, and liver function sufficient to tolerate chemotherapy. Patients initially received one 21-day cycle of standard rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone (R-CHOP; rituximab 375 mg/m2, cyclophosphamide 750 mg/m2, doxorubicin 50 mg/m2, and vincristine 1·4 mg/m2 [to a maximum of 2 mg total dose] intravenously on day 1 of the cycle, and prednisolone 100 mg orally once daily on days 1-5). During this time, we did gene-expression profiling using whole genome cDNA-mediated annealing, selection, extension, and ligation assay of tissue from routine diagnostic biopsy samples to determine the cell-of-origin subtype of each participant (germinal centre B cell, activated B cell, or unclassified). Patients were then centrally randomly assigned (1:1) via a web-based system, with block randomisation stratified by international prognostic index score and cell-of-origin subtype, to continue R-CHOP alone (R-CHOP group; control), or with bortezomib (RB-CHOP group; experimental; 1·3 mg/m2 intravenously or 1·6 mg/m2 subcutaneously) on days 1 and 8 for cycles two to six. If RNA extracted from the diagnostic tissues was of insufficient quality or quantity, participants were given R-CHOP as per the control group. The primary endpoint was 30-month progression-free survival, for the germinal centre and activated B-cell population. The primary analysis was on the modified intention-to-treat population of activated and germinal centre B-cell population. Safety was assessed in all participants who were given at least one dose of study drug. We report the progression-free survival and safety outcomes for patients in the follow-up phase after the required number of events occurred. This study was registered at, number NCT01324596, and recruitment and treatment has completed for all participants, with long-term follow-up ongoing.

Findings: Between June 2, 2011, and June 10, 2015, 1128 eligible patients were registered, of whom 918 (81%) were randomly assigned to receive treatment (n=459 to R-CHOP, n=459 to RB-CHOP), comprising 244 (26·6%) with activated B-cell disease, 475 (51·7%) with germinal centre B cell disease, and 199 (21·7%) with unclassified disease. At a median follow-up of 29·7 months (95% CI 29·0-32·0), we saw no evidence for a difference in progression-free survival in the combined germinal centre and activated B-cell population between R-CHOP and RB-CHOP (30-month progression-free survival 70·1%, 95% CI 65·0-74·7 vs 74·3%, 69·3-78·7; hazard ratio 0·86, 95% CI 0·65-1·13; p=0·28). The most common grade 3 or worse adverse event was haematological toxicity, reported in 178 (39·8%) of 447 patients given R-CHOP and 187 (42·1%) of 444 given RB-CHOP. However, RB-CHOP was not associated with increased haematological toxicity and 398 [87·1%] of 459 participants assigned to receive RB-CHOP completed six cycles of treatment. Grade 3 or worse neuropathy occurred in 17 (3·8%) patients given RB-CHOP versus eight (1·8%) given R-CHOP. Serious adverse events occurred in 190 (42·5%) patients given R-CHOP, including five treatment-related deaths, and 223 (50·2%) given RB-CHOP, including four treatment-related deaths.

Interpretation: This is the first large-scale study in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma to use real-time molecular characterisation for prospective stratification, randomisation, and subsequent analysis of biologically distinct subgroups of patients. The addition of bortezomib did not improve progression-free survival.

Funding: Janssen-Cilag, Bloodwise, and Cancer Research UK.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Equivalence Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Bortezomib / administration & dosage*
  • Bortezomib / adverse effects
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / genetics
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / immunology
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Proteasome Inhibitors / administration & dosage*
  • Proteasome Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Rituximab / administration & dosage
  • Rituximab / adverse effects
  • Switzerland
  • Time Factors
  • Transcriptome*
  • United Kingdom
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage
  • Vincristine / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Proteasome Inhibitors
  • R-CHOP protocol
  • Rituximab
  • Vincristine
  • Bortezomib
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone

Associated data