Temozolomide lymphodepletion enhances CAR abundance and correlates with antitumor efficacy against established glioblastoma.


Adoptive transfer of T cells expressing chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) is an effective immunotherapy for B-cell malignancies but has failed in some solid tumors clinically. Intracerebral tumors may pose challenges that are even more significant. In order to devise a treatment strategy for patients with glioblastoma (GBM), we evaluated CARs as a monotherapy in a murine model of GBM. CARs exhibited poor expansion and survival in circulation and failed to treat syngeneic and orthotopic gliomas. We hypothesized that CAR engraftment would benefit from host lymphodepletion prior to immunotherapy and that this might be achievable by using temozolomide (TMZ), which is standard treatment for these patients and has lymphopenia as its major side effect. We modelled standard of care temozolomide (TMZSD) and dose-intensified TMZ (TMZDI) in our murine model. Both regimens are clinically approved and provide similar efficacy. Only TMZDI pretreatment prompted dramatic CAR proliferation and enhanced persistence in circulation compared to treatment with CARs alone or TMZSD + CARs. Bioluminescent imaging revealed that TMZDI + CARs induced complete regression of 21-day established brain tumors, which correlated with CAR abundance in circulation. Accordingly, TMZDI + CARs significantly prolonged survival and led to long-term survivors. These findings are highly consequential, as it suggests that GBM patients may require TMZDI as first line chemotherapy prior to systemic CAR infusion to promote CAR engraftment and antitumor efficacy. On this basis, we have initiated a phase I trial in patients with newly diagnosed GBM incorporating TMZDI as a preconditioning regimen prior to CAR immunotherapy (NCT02664363).





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Publication Info

Suryadevara, Carter M, Rupen Desai, Melissa L Abel, Katherine A Riccione, Kristen A Batich, Steven H Shen, Pakawat Chongsathidkiet, Patrick C Gedeon, et al. (2018). Temozolomide lymphodepletion enhances CAR abundance and correlates with antitumor efficacy against established glioblastoma. Oncoimmunology, 7(6). p. e1434464. 10.1080/2162402x.2018.1434464 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25616.

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Steven Shen

Postdoctoral Associate

Peter Edward Fecci

Professor of Neurosurgery

As the Director of both the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program and the Center for Brain and Spine Metastasis at Duke University, I focus our programmatic interests on the design, optimization, and monitoring of immune-based treatment platforms for patients with intracranial tumors, whether primary or metastatic. Within this broad scope, however, my own group looks more specifically at limitations to immunotherapeutic success, with a particular focus on understanding and reversing T cell dysfunction in patients with glioblastoma (GBM) and brain metastases. We employ a systematic approach to categorizing T cell dysfunction (Woroniecka et al, Clin Cancer Res 2018 Aug 15;24(16):3792-3802), and whereas our earlier work addressed concerns for regulatory T cell-induced tolerance, we now heavily study T cell ignorance and exhaustion, as well. Regarding the former, we recently published the novel phenomenon of S1P1-mediated bone marrow T cell sequestration in patients with intracranial tumors (Chongsathidkiet et al, Nat Medicine 2018 Sep;24(9):1459-1468). Regarding the latter, we have likewise recently identified and characterized exhaustion as a significant limitation to T-cell function within GBM (Woroniecka et al, Clin Cancer Res 2018 Sep 1;24(17):4175-4186). I very much look to collaboratively integrate our approaches with others investigating innovative treatment options. I continue my focus on combining strategies for reversing T cell deficits with current and novel immune-based platforms as a means of deriving and improving rational and precise anti-tumor therapies. It is my sincerest desire to forge a career focused on co-operative, multi-disciplinary, organized brain tumor therapy. Ultimately, my goal is to help coordinate the efforts of a streamlined and effective center for brain tumor research and clinical care. I hope to play some role in ushering in a period where the science and treatment arms of brain tumor therapy suffer no disjoint, but instead represent the convergent efforts of researchers, neuro-oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, biomedical engineers, and neurosurgeons alike. I hope to see such synergy become standard of care.

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