Anti-CD20 antibody treatments, such as obinutuzumab, have been associated with infusion-related reactions (IRRs). In the phase 3 iLLUMINATE study of ibrutinib-obinutuzumab versus chlorambucil-obinutuzumab in first-line chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma, IRRs were substantially reduced with ibrutinib-obinutuzumab versus chlorambucil-obinutuzumab. We prospectively analyzed inflammatory cytokines to evaluate the impact of ibrutinib on circulating cytokine levels following obinutuzumab infusion. In iLLUMINATE, ibrutinib or chlorambucil was given approximately 30-120 min before the first obinutuzumab infusion. Cytokines evaluated were IFNγ, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-18, MCP-1, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, and TNFα. Changes in peak cytokine levels from baseline (immediately before obinutuzumab) to post-obinutuzumab infusion were compared between arms and between patients with versus without IRRs using Wilcoxon rank sum test. Of 228 treated patients, 95 on ibrutinib-obinutuzumab (15 with IRRs, 80 without) and 88 on chlorambucil-obinutuzumab (45 with IRRs, 43 without) with cytokine data were included. Irrespective of IRR occurrence, median increase in cytokines was lower with ibrutinib-obinutuzumab versus chlorambucil-obinutuzumab for all cytokines (P < 0.01) except MIP-1β. Across treatment arms, post-obinutuzumab median increase in all cytokines except MIP-1β was greater in patients with versus without IRRs (P < 0.001). IL-6 and IL-8 elevations were associated with IRRs in both treatment arms. Among patients with IRRs, those receiving ibrutinib-obinutuzumab had lower post-obinutuzumab increases in IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, and MCP-1 (P < 0.04) than patients receiving chlorambucil-obinutuzumab. For patients in the ibrutinib-treatment arm, we observed a reduction in both the rate of clinically apparent IRRs and the levels of IRR-related cytokines and chemokines. This observation supports an immunomodulatory mechanism of action for ibrutinib. Clinical Trial Registration: NCT02264574.
Keywords: Cytokines; Ibrutinib; Infusion-related reactions; Obinutuzumab.