Grading and management of cytokine release syndrome in patients treated with tisagenlecleucel in the JULIET trial

Blood Advances, 2020

Chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy yields durable responses in patients with relapsed/refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (r/r DLBCL). Cytokine release syndrome (CRS) is a CAR-T therapy-related adverse event. To date, clinical trials of different CAR-T products have not been aligned on CRS grading scales and management algorithms. We assessed concordance between the Penn, Lee, and American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT) grading systems by retrospectively regrading CRS events in the JULIET (A Phase 2, Single Arm, Multicenter Trial to Determine the Efficacy and Safety of CTL019 in Adult Patients With Relapsed or Refractory DLBCL) trial. Four medical experts with experience treating patients with 3 different CAR-T products independently regraded individual patient-level CRS events from the phase 2, global, pivotal JULIET trial (#NCT02445248). As of 8 December 2017, a total of 111 patients with r/r DLBCL underwent infusion with tisagenlecleucel. Sixty-four patients had CRS events graded per the Penn scale; on retrospective review, 63 and 61 patients had CRS events regraded per the Lee and ASTCT criteria, respectively. The Lee scale yielded concordance for 39, lower grade for 20, and higher grade for 5 events compared with the Penn scale. The ASTCT criteria provided concordance for 37, lower grade for 23, and higher grade for 4 events compared with the Penn scale. Sixteen (14%) of 111 patients in the JULIET trial received tocilizumab, all for severe events (Penn grade 3/4 CRS). This study is the first to assess concordance between 3 CRS grading scales using the same patient data set and to compare tocilizumab use according to the Lee scale in the JULIET trial and the ZUMA-1 (Long-Term Safety and Activity of Axicabtagene Ciloleucel in Refractory Large B-Cell Lymphoma) trial. This analysis describes key differences between grading scales and may inform CRS management practices.

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Schuster SJ, Maziarz RT, Rusch ES, Li J, Signorovitch JE, Romanov VV, Locke FL, Maloney DG