An Fc engineered CD19 antibody eradicates MRD in patient-derived MLL-rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemia xenografts

Denis M. Schewe, Ameera Alsadeq, Cornelia Sattler, Lennart Lenk, Fotini Vogiatzi, Gunnar Cario, Simon Vieth, Thomas Valerius, Sophia Rosskopf, Fabian Meyersieck, Julia Alten, Martin Schrappe, Martin Gramatzki, Matthias Peipp and Christian Kellner

Key points

  • Fc engineered CD19 antibody cures MRD in ~50% of mice xenografted with ALL cells and is highly synergistic in combination with chemotherapy.

  • Macrophages are important effector cells for this antibody in vitro and in vivo.


Antibody therapy constitutes a major advance in the treatment of B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL). To evaluate the efficacy and the mechanisms of action of CD19 monoclonal antibody therapy in pediatric BCP-ALL, an Fc engineered CD19 antibody carrying the S239D/I332E mutation for improved effector cell recruitment (CD19-DE) was tested. Patient derived xenografts (PDX) of pediatric MLL-rearranged ALL were established in NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ (NSG) mice. Antibody CD19-DE was efficient in prolonging the survival of NSG mice in a minimal residual disease (MRD) model. The majority of surviving mice remained PCR-MRD negative after treatment. When antibody therapy was initiated in overt leukemia, antibody CD19-DE was still efficient in prolonging survival of xenografted mice compared to non-treated control animals, but the effects were less pronounced than in the MRD-setting. Importantly, combination of antibody CD19-DE and cytoreduction by chemotherapy (dexamethasone, vincristine, PEG-asparaginase) resulted in significantly improved survival rates in xenograft mice. Antibody CD19-DE treatment was also efficient in a randomized phase II-like PDX trial using 13 MLL-rearranged BCP-ALL samples. Macrophage depletion by liposomal clodronate resulted in a reversal of the beneficial effects of CD19-DE suggesting an important role for macrophages as effector cells. In support of this finding, CD19-DE was found to enhance phagocytosis of patient-derived ALL blasts by human macrophages in vitro. Thus, Fc engineered CD19 antibodies may represent a promising treatment option in infants and children with MLL-rearranged BCP-ALL who have a poor outcome when treated with chemotherapy only.

  • Submitted January 25, 2017.
  • Accepted July 6, 2017.