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Blood. 1996 Mar 1;87(5):1891-9.

Hyaluronan-dependent motility of B cells and leukemic plasma cells in blood, but not of bone marrow plasma cells, in multiple myeloma: alternate use of receptor for hyaluronan-mediated motility (RHAMM) and CD44.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.


We investigated the ability of blood B cells, bone marrow (BM) plasma cells, and terminal leukemic plasma cells (T-PCL) from patients with multiple myeloma (MM) to migrate on extracellular matrix proteins. Hyaluronan (HA), but not collagen type I, collagen type IV, or laminin, promoted migration of MM blood B cells, as determined by time-lapse video microscopy. Between 13% and 20% of MM blood B cells migrated on HA with an average velocity of 19 micron/min, and greater than 75% of MM blood B cells exhibited vigorous cell movement and plasma membrane deformation, as did circulating T-PCL and extraskeletal plasma cells from patients with MM. In contrast, plasma cells obtained from BM of patients with MM lacked motility on all substrates tested and did not exhibit cell membrane protrusions or cellular deformation. MM blood B cells and MM plasma cells from all sources examined expressed the HA-binding receptors receptor for HA-mediated motility (RHAMM) and CD44. On circulating MM B cells, both RHAMM and CD44 participated in HA-binding, indicating their expression ex vivo in an activated conformation. In contrast, for the majority of BM plasma cells in the majority of patients with MM, expression of RHAMM or CD44 was not accompanied by HA binding. A minority of patients did have HA-binding BM plasma cells, involving both RHAMM and CD44, as evidenced by partial blocking with monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs) to RHAMM or to CD44. Despite HA binding by both RHAMM and CD44, migration of MM blood B cells on HA was inhibited by anti-RHAMM but not by anti-CD44 MoAbs, indicating that RHAMM but not CD44 mediates motility on HA. Thus, circulating B and plasma cells in MM exhibit RHAMM- and HA-dependent motile behavior indicative of migratory potential, while BM plasma cells are sessile. We speculate that a subset(s) of circulating B or plasma cells mediates malignant spread in myeloma.

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