PD-1 downregulation enhances CAR-T cell antitumor efficiency by preserving a cell memory phenotype and reducing exhaustion

April, 04, 2024 | Select Oncology Journal Articles


Despite the encouraging outcome of chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) targeting B cell maturation antigen (BCMA) in managing relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (RRMM) patients, the therapeutic side effects and dysfunctions of CAR-T cells have limited the efficacy and clinical application of this promising approach.


In this study, we incorporated a short hairpin RNA cassette targeting PD-1 into a BCMA-CAR with an OX-40 costimulatory domain. The transduced PD-1KD BCMA CAR-T cells were evaluated for surface CAR expression, T-cell proliferation, cytotoxicity, cytokine production, and subsets when they were exposed to a single or repetitive antigen stimulation. Safety and efficacy were initially observed in a phase I clinical trial for RRMM patients.


Compared with parental BCMA CAR-T cells, PD-1KD BCMA CAR-T cell therapy showed reduced T-cell exhaustion and increased percentage of memory T cells in vitro. Better antitumor activity in vivo was also observed in PD-1KD BCMA CAR-T group. In the phase I clinical trial of the CAR-T cell therapy for seven RRMM patients, safety and efficacy were initially observed in all seven patients, including four patients (4/7, 57.1%) with at least one extramedullary site and four patients (4/7, 57.1%) with high-risk cytogenetics. The overall response rate was 85.7% (6/7). Four patients had a stringent complete response (sCR), one patient had a CR, one patient had a partial response, and one patient had stable disease. Safety profile was also observed in these patients, with an incidence of manageable mild to moderate cytokine release syndrome and without the occurrence of neurological toxicity.


Our study demonstrates a design concept of CAR-T cells independent of antigen specificity and provides an alternative approach for improving the efficacy of CAR-T cell therapy.

For Additional News from OncWeekly – Your Front Row Seat To The Future of Cancer Care –




Sign up for our emails

Trusted insights straight to your inbox and get the latest updates from OncWeekly

Privacy Policy