The cerebroventricular environment modifies CAR T cells for potent activity against both central nervous system and systemic lymphoma

Xiuli Wang, Christian Huynh, Ryan Urak, Lihong Weng, Miriam Walter, Laura Lim, Vibhuti Vyas, Wen Chung Chang, Brenda Aguilar, Alfonso Brito, Aniee Sarkissian, N. Achini Bandara, Lu Yang, Jinhui Wang, Xiwei Wu, Jianying Zhang, Saul J. Priceman, Hong Qin, Larry W. Kwak, Lihua E. BuddeSandra H. Thomas, Mary C. Clark, Leslie Popplewell, Tanya Siddiqi, Christine E. Brown, Stephen J. Forman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lymphomas with central nervous system (CNS) involvement confer a worse prognosis than those without CNS involvement, and patients currently have limited treatment options. T cells genetically engineered with CD19-targeted chimeric antigen receptors (CAR) are effective against B-cell malignancies and show tremendous potential in the treatment of systemic lymphoma. We aimed to leverage this strategy toward a more effective therapy for patients with lymphoma with CNS disease. NOD-scid IL2Rgammanull (NSG) mice with CNS and/or systemic lymphoma were treated with CD19-CAR T cells via intracerebroventricular (ICV) or intravenous (IV) injection. CAR T cells isolated after treatment were rigorously examined for phenotype, gene expression, and function. We observed that CAR T cells infused ICV, but not IV, completely and durably eradicated both CNS and systemic lymphoma. CAR T cells delivered ICV migrated efficiently to the periphery, homed to systemic tumors, and expanded in vivo, leading to complete elimination of disease and resistance to tumor rechallenge. Mechanistic studies indicated that ICV-delivered CAR T cells are conditioned by exposure to cerebrospinal fluid in the ICV environment for superior antilymphoma activity and memory function compared with IV-delivered CAR T cells. Further analysis suggested that manipulating cellular metabolism or preactivating therapeutic CAR T cells with antigen ex vivo may improve the efficacy of CAR T cells in vivo. Our demonstration that ICV-delivered CD19-CAR T cells had activity against CNS and systemic lymphoma could offer a valuable new strategy for treatment of B-cell malignancies with CNS involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-88
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Cancer Research


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