Toxicity and efficacy of CAR T-cell therapy in primary and secondary CNS lymphoma: a meta-analysis of 128 patients

Blood Adv. 2023 Jan 10;7(1):32-39. doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2022008525.


Relapsed/refractory primary central nervous system lymphoma (PCNSL) and secondary central nervous system lymphoma (SCNSL) are associated with short survival and represent an unmet need, requiring novel effective strategies. Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, effective in systemic large B-cell lymphoma (LBCL), have shown responses in PCNSL and SCNSL in early reports, but with limited sample size. We, therefore, performed a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis of all published data describing CAR T-cell use in PCNSL and SCNSL. This identified 128 patients with PCNSL (30) and SCNSL (98). Our primary objectives were to evaluate CAR T-cell specific toxicity (immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome [ICANS] and cytokine release syndrome [CRS]) as well as response rates in these 2 populations. Seventy percent of patients with PCNSL had CRS of any grade (13% grade 3-4) and 53% had ICANS of any grade (18% grade 3-4). Comparatively, 72% of the SCNSL cohort experienced CRS of any grade (11% grade 3-4) and 48% had ICANS of any grade (26% grade 3-4). Of the patients with PCNSL, 56% achieved a complete remission (CR) with 37% remaining in remission at 6 months. Similarly, 47% of patients with SCNSL had a CR, with 37% in remission at 6 months. In a large meta-analysis of central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, toxicity of anti-CD19-CAR T-cell therapy was similar to that of registrational studies in systemic LBCL with no increased signal of neurotoxicity observed. Encouraging efficacy was demonstrated in patients with CNS lymphoma with no discernible differences between PCNSL and SCNSL.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD19
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Cytokine Release Syndrome
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive / adverse effects
  • Lymphoma, Large B-Cell, Diffuse* / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin*
  • Neoplasms, Second Primary*
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes*


  • Antigens, CD19
  • cell-associated neurotoxicity