Evaluating the Patient with Neurotoxicity after Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell Therapy

Shannon P. Fortin Ensign, Charles Gaulin, Maya Hrachova, Michael Ruff, Ehab Harahsheh, Kevin Vicenti, Januario Castro, Javier Munoz, Allison Rosenthal, Maciej M. Mrugala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cells are now a well-established treatment for hematologic malignancies. Their use in clinical practice has expanded quite rapidly and hospitals have developed CAR T-cell protocols to evaluate patients for associated toxicities, and particularly for neurotoxicity. There are many variables that influence the risk for developing this complication, many of which are not fully understood. The severity can be related to a particular product. Clinical vigilance is critical to facilitate early recognition of neurotoxicity, hence the importance of pre-CAR T-cell neurological evaluation of each patient. While details of such an evaluation may slightly differ between institutions, generally a comprehensive neurological evaluation including assessment of cognitive abilities along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is a gold standard. Management of neurotoxicity requires a well-orchestrated team approach with specialists from oncology, neurology, oftentimes neurosurgery and neuro-intensive care. Diagnostic work-up frequently includes detailed neurologic evaluation with comparison to the baseline assessment, imaging of the brain, electroencephalogram, and lumbar puncture. While steroids are uniformly used for treatment, many patients also receive tocilizumab for an underlying and frequently concomitant cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in addition to symptom-driven supportive care. Novel CAR T-cell constructs and other agents allowing for potentially lower risk of toxicity are being explored. While neurotoxicity is predominantly an early, and reversible, event, a growing body of literature suggests that late neurotoxicity with variable clinical presentation can also occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1845-1860
Number of pages16
JournalCurrent treatment options in oncology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • CAR T-cell therapy
  • Chimeric antigen receptor
  • Clinical neurology
  • Hematology
  • Neurooncology
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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