Cardiotoxicity from chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapy for advanced malignancies

Matthias Totzeck, Lars Michel, Yi Lin, Joerg Herrmann, Tienush Rassaf

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapy is the next revolutionary advance in cancer therapy. By using ex vivo engineered T cells to specifically target antigens, a targeted immune reaction is induced. Chimeric antigen receptor-T cell therapy is approved for patients suffering from advanced and refractory B cell and plasma cell malignancies and is undergoing testing for various other haematologic and solid malignancies. In the process of triggering an anticancer immune reaction, a systemic inflammatory response can emerge as cytokine release syndrome (CRS). The severity of CRS is highly variable across patients, ranging from mild flu-like symptoms to fulminant hyperinflammatory states with excessive immune activation, associated multiorgan failure and high mortality risk. Cytokine release syndrome is also an important factor for adverse cardiovascular (CV) events. Sinus tachycardia and hypotension are the most common reflections, similar to what is seen with other systemic inflammatory response syndromes. Corrected QT interval prolongation and tachyarrhythmias, including ventricular arrhythmias and atrial fibrillation, also show a close link with CRS. Events of myocardial ischaemia and venous thromboembolism can be provoked during CAR-T cell therapy. Although not as closely related to CRS, changes in cardiac function can be observed to the point of heart failure and cardiogenic shock. This may also be encountered in patients with severe valvular heart disease in the setting of CRS. This review will discuss the pertinent CV risks of the growing field of CAR-T cell therapy for today’s cardiologists, including incidence, characteristics, and treatment options, and will conclude with an integrated management algorithm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1928-1940
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean heart journal
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 21 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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