[18F]FDG PET-CT in patients with DLBCL treated with CAR-T cell therapy: a practical approach of reporting pre- and post-treatment studies

Dan Cohen, Efrat Luttwak, Ofrat Beyar-Katz, Shir Hazut Krauthammer, Yael Bar-On, Odelia Amit, Ronit Gold, Chava Perry, Irit Avivi, Ron Ram, Einat Even-Sapir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The introduction of CD19-specific chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy (CAR-T) for treatment of relapsed/refractory diffuse large B cell lymphoma (R/R DLBCL) gives hope to patients with otherwise dismal prognosis. Therapy outcomes, however, depend upon selection of patients and accurate early identification of non-responders. Patients treated with CAR-T usually undergo [18F]FDG PET-CT at time of decision (TD), time of CAR-T transfusion (TT), 1 month (M1), and 3 months (M3) post-therapy. The purpose of the current study was to identify the specific parameters that should be addressed when reporting PET-CT studies in the clinical setting of CAR-T therapy. Methods: A total of 138 PET-CT scans (30 TD, 42 TT, 44 M1, 22 M3) of 48 patients treated with CAR-T were included. SUVmax, TMTV, and TLG were calculated in all scans. Response was assessed using the Deauville scale and ΔSUVmax method. Overall survival (OS) was the primary endpoint. Median follow-up was 12.8 (IQR 6.4–16.0) months from CAR-T infusion. Results: In a univariate analysis, TD-SUVmax > 17.1 and TT-SUVmax > 12.1 were associated with shorter OS (Pv < 0.05). In a multivariate analysis, three factors were significantly associated with shorter OS: TD-SUVmax > 17.1 (HR 10.3; Pv < 0.01), LDH > 450 U/l (HR 7.7; Pv < 0.01), and ECOG score > 1 (HR 5.5; Pv = 0.04). Data from TD and TT PET-CT scans were not predictive of toxicity. On M1-PET-CT, patients with a Deauville score > 3 had significantly shorter OS (median 7.9 months, versus not reached, Pv < 0.01). ΔSUVmax ≤ 66% on M1-PET-CT predicted shorter OS when M1-SUVmax was compared to TD-SUVmax (Pv = 0.02) but not to TT-SUVmax (Pv = 0.38). Conclusion: Pre-treatment SUVmax may guide patient selection for CAR-T therapy. On M1-PET-CT, Deauville score and ΔSUVmax from TD may identify early therapy failure. These parameters are easy to obtain and should be included in the PET-CT report.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-962
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • CAR-T
  • Deauville
  • PET-CT
  • SUVmax


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