Bendamustine is safe and effective for lymphodepletion before tisagenlecleucel in patients with refractory or relapsed large B-cell lymphomas

G. Ghilardi, E. A. Chong, J. Svoboda, P. Wohlfarth, S. D. Nasta, S. Williamson, J. D. Landsburg, J. N. Gerson, S. K. Barta, R. Pajarillo, J. Myers, A. I. Chen, L. Schachter, R. Yelton, H. J. Ballard, A. Hodges Dwinal, S. Gier, D. Victoriano, E. Weber, E. NapierA. Garfall, D. L. Porter, U. Jäger, R. T. Maziarz, M. Ruella, S. J. Schuster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Anti-CD19 chimeric antigen receptor T-cell immunotherapy (CAR-T) is now a standard treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas; however, a significant portion of patients do not respond to CAR-T and/or experience toxicities. Lymphodepleting chemotherapy is a critical component of CAR-T that enhances CAR-T-cell engraftment, expansion, cytotoxicity, and persistence. We hypothesized that the lymphodepletion regimen might affect the safety and efficacy of CAR-T. Patients and methods: We compared the safety and efficacy of lymphodepletion using either fludarabine/cyclophosphamide (n = 42) or bendamustine (n = 90) before tisagenlecleucel in two cohorts of patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas treated consecutively at three academic institutions in the United States (University of Pennsylvania, n = 90; Oregon Health & Science University, n = 35) and Europe (University of Vienna, n = 7). Response was assessed using the Lugano 2014 criteria and toxicities were assessed by the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) version 5.0 and, when possible, the American Society for Transplantation and Cellular Therapy (ASTCT) consensus grading. Results: Fludarabine/cyclophosphamide led to more profound lymphocytopenia after tisagenlecleucel infusion compared with bendamustine, although the efficacy of tisagenlecleucel was similar between the two groups. We observed significant differences, however, in the frequency and severity of adverse events. In particular, patients treated with bendamustine had lower rates of cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicity. In addition, higher rates of hematological toxicities were observed in patients receiving fludarabine/cyclophosphamide. Bendamustine-treated patients had higher nadir neutrophil counts, hemoglobin levels, and platelet counts, as well as a shorter time to blood count recovery, and received fewer platelet and red cell transfusions. Fewer episodes of infection, neutropenic fever, and post-infusion hospitalization were observed in the bendamustine cohort compared with patients receiving fludarabine/cyclophosphamide. Conclusions: Bendamustine for lymphodepletion before tisagenlecleucel has efficacy similar to fludarabine/cyclophosphamide with reduced toxicities, including cytokine release syndrome, neurotoxicity, infectious and hematological toxicities, as well as reduced hospital utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)916-928
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • CAR T cell
  • bendamustine
  • lymphodepletion
  • lymphoma
  • tisagenlecleucel
  • toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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