BCMA CAR-T induces complete and durable remission in refractory plasmablastic lymphoma

J Immunother Cancer. 2023 May;11(5):e006684. doi: 10.1136/jitc-2023-006684.


Plasmablastic lymphoma (PBL) is a rare subtype of aggressive large B-cell lymphoma, with a dismal prognosis despite aggressive therapies. New approaches are needed for those with refractory disease. PBL expresses antigens similar to multiple myeloma (MM), including B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA). Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy directed against BCMA has shown efficacy for the treatment of heavily pretreated MM with low rates of grades 3 and 4 cytokine release syndrome (CRS) and immune effector cell-associated neurotoxicity syndrome (ICANS) in a phase Ib/II trial (A Study of JNJ-68284528, a CAR-T Directed Against BCMA in Participants With Relapsed or Refractory Multiple Myeloma (CARTITUDE-1), NCT03548207). However, data for the use of BCMA CAR-T for treating PBL are lacking.We report a challenging case of multiple refractory PBL that emerged from B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in an adolescent who failed to respond to an allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant. The patient developed rapidly advancing disease despite withdrawal of immunosuppression, treatment with etoposide, ibrutinib, and daratumumab, prompting consideration of BCMA CAR-T (under emergency investigational new drug (eIND)). The patient achieved a complete remission (CR), without recurrent acute graft versus host disease (GVHD), CRS or ICANS after BCMA CAR-T therapy. BCMA CAR-T expansion was detected in vivo, peaking on day 15. The patient remains in CR for more than a year post CAR-T therapy, supporting consideration of immunotherapy for future patients with refractory PBL, a disease with few treatment options.

Keywords: Immunotherapy; Pediatrics; Receptors, Chimeric Antigen.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • B-Cell Maturation Antigen / therapeutic use
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma* / therapy
  • Plasmablastic Lymphoma*
  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen*


  • Receptors, Chimeric Antigen
  • cell-associated neurotoxicity
  • B-Cell Maturation Antigen

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03548207