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Blood. 2000 Apr 15;95(8):2630-6.

Vascular endothelial growth factor and interleukin-6 in paracrine tumor-stromal cell interactions in multiple myeloma.

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  • 1Department of Medicine/Hematology and Oncology, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany.


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a multifunctional cytokine, potently stimulates angiogenesis including tumor neovascularization. Although well established in solid tumors, the role of VEGF in bone marrow neoangiogenesis and paracrine tumor-stromal cell interactions in lymphohematopoietic malignancies has not been fully elucidated. In multiple myeloma (MM), marrow neovascularization parallels disease progression. This parallel prompted us to investigate the expression and secretion of VEGF by myeloma cells and its potential effects in myeloma-marrow stroma interactions. The biologically active splice variants VEGF165 and VEGF121 were expressed and secreted by myeloma cell lines and plasma cells isolated from the marrow of patients with MM. As shown by immunocytochemistry or RT-PCR, myeloma cells did not express or weakly expressed the VEGF receptors FLT-1 and FLK-1/KDR, indicating that autocrine stimulation is unlikely. In contrast, FLK-1/KDR was abundantly expressed by marrow stromal cells. Therefore, we studied the effects of VEGF on marrow stroma, focusing on the secretion of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a potent growth factor for myeloma cells and an inhibitor of plasma cell apoptosis. Exposure of stromal and microvascular endothelial cells to recombinant human (rh) VEGF165 or VEGF121 induced a time- and dose-dependent increase in IL-6 secretion (14- to 27-fold at 50 ng/mL after 24 hours, P <.001). Conversely, rhIL-6 stimulated VEGF expression and secretion in myeloma cell lines (40%-60%; P <.05) and to a variable degree (up to 5.3-fold; P <.005) in plasma cells purified from the marrow of patients with MM. This mutual stimulation suggests paracrine interactions between myeloma and marrow stromal cells triggered by VEGF and IL-6. (Blood. 2000;95:2630-2636)

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