Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy in acute lymphocytic leukaemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Lancet Haematol. 2020 Nov;7(11):e816-e826. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3026(20)30277-5.


Background: Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy has shown remarkable activity in patients with refractory or relapsed acute lymphocytic leukaemia. Various anti-CD19 CAR T-cell constructs have been trialled and responses vary widely among different studies. We aimed to systematically analyse the outcomes of patients with acute lymphocytic leukaemia treated with anti-CD19 CAR T cells and identify factors associated with differences in outcomes.

Methods: We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished clinical trials that reported data on the outcomes of adult or paediatric patients that were treated with anti-CD19 CAR T cells for relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia, reported between Jan 1, 2012, and April 14, 2020. Studies with two patients or fewer were excluded and summary data were extracted from the reports. The primary outcome was the number of patients who had complete remission at any time after anti-CD19 CAR T-cell infusion. This study is not registered in PROSPERO.

Findings: From 1160 studies, we identified 40 potentially appropriate studies, 35 (88%) of which met the eligibility criteria and were included in the final analysis (n=953 patients). The pooled complete remission was 80% (95% CI 75·5-84·8) and heterogeneity between studies was moderate (I2=56·96%). In the prespecified subgroup analyses, 195 (75% [95% CI 66·9-82·9, I2=35·22%]) of 263 patients in adult studies and 242 (81% [72·9-87·2, I2=54·45%]) of 346 patients in paediatric studies achieved complete remission, p=0·24. The pooled complete remission did not significantly differ with anti-CD19 CAR T-cell construct type or single-chain variable fragment clone, but was higher with autologous T-cell origin (727 [83%, 78·5-86·5, I2=44·34%] of 901 patients), compared with allogeneic T-cell origin (29 [55%, 30·6-79·0, I2=62·64%] of 52 patients; p=0·018). 242 (26% [95% CI 18·5-34·1]) of 854 patients developed grade 3 or worse cytokine release syndrome and 97 (12% [6·6-19·2]) of 532 developed grade 3 or worse neurotoxicity. There was no difference in the proportion of patients who achieved complete remission or who had cytokine release syndrome or neurotoxicity between different anti-CD19 CAR T-cell constructs. The risk of bias was assessed as low in 17 studies and moderate in 18 studies.

Interpretation: The high response rates after anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy can be used to guide the use of therapy in patients with relapsed or refractory acute lymphocytic leukaemia. Comparison studies are required to further determine differences in efficacy between different anti-CD19 CAR T-cell constructs in the setting of relapsed or refractory acute lymphocytic leukaemia.

Funding: National Cancer Institute, National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Mayo Clinic K2R Research Pipeline, and Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD19 / immunology*
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome / etiology
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive* / adverse effects
  • Neoplasm, Residual
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / mortality
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / therapy*
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / therapeutic use
  • Remission Induction
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Antigens, CD19
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen