Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy After Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell Therapy for Recurrent Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Jared T. Ahrendsen, Kartik Sehgal, Sasmit Sarangi, Erik J. Uhlmann, Hemant Varma, Jon Arnason, David Avigan


Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy targeting cluster of differentiation (CD)19 has had a transformative impact on patient outcomes in a subset of patients with relapsed/refractory non-Hodgkin lymphoma. We present a patient with refractory large B-cell lymphoma in complete remission for 2 years following treatment with CD19-targeted CAR T-cell therapy, who presented with 2 weeks of progressive aphasia. Imaging revealed a left occipital brain lesion and biopsy demonstrated features diagnostic of progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Further evaluation revealed severe hypogammaglobulinemia and a low CD4 count. She was treated with pembrolizumab and intravenous immunoglobulin resulting in decreased cerebrospinal fluid viral load without clinical improvement and died 8 weeks after presentation. This case highlights that there is potential for severe opportunistic infections after CAR T-cell therapy, including fatal progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Strategies to enhance post-treatment immune reconstitution are essential to further harness the unique potency of CAR T-cell therapy.

J Hematol. 2021;10(5):212-216


Chimeric antigen receptor; CAR T-cell therapy; Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy; Opportunistic infection

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Journal of Hematology, bimonthly, ISSN 1927-1212 (print), 1927-1220 (online), published by Elmer Press Inc.                            
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