Second-Line Tisagenlecleucel or Standard Care in Aggressive B-Cell Lymphoma

N Engl J Med. 2022 Feb 17;386(7):629-639. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2116596. Epub 2021 Dec 14.


Background: Patient outcomes are poor for aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphomas not responding to or progressing within 12 months after first-line therapy. Tisagenlecleucel is an anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy approved for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma after at least two treatment lines.

Methods: We conducted an international phase 3 trial involving patients with aggressive lymphoma that was refractory to or progressing within 12 months after first-line therapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive tisagenlecleucel with optional bridging therapy (tisagenlecleucel group) or salvage chemotherapy and autologous hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) (standard-care group). The primary end point was event-free survival, defined as the time from randomization to stable or progressive disease at or after the week 12 assessment or death. Crossover to receive tisagenlecleucel was allowed if a defined event occurred at or after the week 12 assessment. Other end points included response and safety.

Results: A total of 322 patients underwent randomization. At baseline, the percentage of patients with high-grade lymphomas was higher in the tisagenlecleucel group than in the standard-care group (24.1% vs. 16.9%), as was the percentage with an International Prognostic Index score (range, 0 to 5, with higher scores indicating a worse prognosis) of 2 or higher (65.4% vs. 57.5%). A total of 95.7% of the patients in the tisagenlecleucel group received tisagenlecleucel; 32.5% of the patients in the standard-care group received autologous HSCT. The median time from leukapheresis to tisagenlecleucel infusion was 52 days. A total of 25.9% of the patients in the tisagenlecleucel group had lymphoma progression at week 6, as compared with 13.8% of those in the standard-care group. The median event-free survival in both groups was 3.0 months (hazard ratio for event or death in the tisagenlecleucel group, 1.07; 95% confidence interval, 0.82 to 1.40; P = 0.61). A response occurred in 46.3% of the patients in the tisagenlecleucel group and in 42.5% in the standard-care group. Ten patients in the tisagenlecleucel group and 13 in the standard-care group died from adverse events.

Conclusions: Tisagenlecleucel was not superior to standard salvage therapy in this trial. Additional studies are needed to assess which patients may obtain the most benefit from each approach. (Funded by Novartis; BELINDA number, NCT03570892.).

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological / therapeutic use*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / drug therapy*
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / mortality
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Progression-Free Survival
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / therapeutic use*
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Salvage Therapy
  • Transplantation, Autologous


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Immunological
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • tisagenlecleucel

Associated data