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Karschnia, Philipp; Blobner, Jens; Teske, Nico; Schöberl, Florian; Fitzinger, Esther; Dreyling, Martin; Tonn, Jörg-Christian; Thon, Niklas; Subklewe, Marion and Baumgarten, Louisa von (2021): CAR T-Cells for CNS Lymphoma: Driving into New Terrain? In: Cancers, Vol. 13, No. 10, 2503

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Abstract

Primary or secondary central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma is frequently associated with a poor prognosis. CAR T-cells are being established as a relevant treatment approach in hematological B-cell malignancies. Unfortunately, most clinical studies on chimeric antigen-receptor (CAR) T-cells have excluded patients with CNS involvement but several clinical trials on CAR T-cell therapy in CNS lymphoma patients are currently ongoing. Preclinical and preliminary clinical data suggest an overall acceptable safety profile and considerable anti-tumor effects might be extrapolated for CAR T-cell therapy in CNS lymphoma. Primary CNS lymphomas (PCNSL) represent a group of extranodal non-Hodgkin lymphomas and secondary CNS lymphomas refer to secondary involvement of the neuroaxis by systemic disease. CNS lymphomas are associated with limited prognosis even after aggressive multimodal therapy. Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells have proven as a promising therapeutic avenue in hematological B-cell malignancies including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and mantle-cell lymphoma. CARs endow an autologous T-cell population with MHC-unrestricted effectivity against tumor target antigens such as the pan B-cell marker CD19. In PCNSL, compelling and long-lasting anti-tumor effects of such therapy have been shown in murine immunocompromised models. In clinical studies on CAR T-cells for CNS lymphoma, only limited data are available and often include both patients with PCNSL but also patients with secondary CNS lymphoma. Several clinical trials on CAR T-cell therapy for primary and secondary CNS lymphoma are currently ongoing. Extrapolated from the available preliminary data, an overall acceptable safety profile with considerable anti-tumor effects might be expected. Whether these beneficial anti-tumor effects are as long-lasting as in animal models is currently in doubt;and the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment of the brain may be among the most pivotal factors limiting efficacy of CAR T-cell therapy in CNS lymphoma. Based on an increasing understanding of CAR T-cell interactions with the tumor cells as well as the cerebral tissue, modifications of CAR design or the combination of CAR T-cell therapy with other therapeutic approaches may aid to release the full therapeutic efficiency of CAR T-cells. CAR T-cells may therefore emerge as a novel treatment strategy in primary and secondary CNS lymphoma.

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