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Semin Oncol. 2001 Dec;28(6):607-12.

Novel therapies targeting the myeloma cell and its bone marrow microenvironment.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Novel therapies in multiple myeloma (MM) target not only the tumor cell but also the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. Thalidomide (Thal), as well as derivative immunomodulatory drugs (IMiDs), directly induce apoptosis or G1 growth arrest in MM cell lines and patient's MM cells which are resistant to melphalan (Mel), doxorubicin (Dox), and dexamethasone (Dex). Although Thal and IMiDs do not alter adhesion of MM cells to bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), they inhibit the upregulation of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) secretion triggered by the binding of MM cells to BMSCs. Proteasome inhibitors represent another potential anticancer therapy targeting the MM cell and the BM microenvironment. The proteasome inhibitor PS-341 directly inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in both human MM cell lines and freshly isolated patient's MM cells which are resistant to Mel, Dox, and Dex. PS-341 inhibits p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) growth signaling triggered by IL-6 and induces apoptosis, despite induction of p21 and p27, in p53 wild-type and p53 mutant MM cells. PS-341 adds to the anti-MM activity of dexamethasone and overcomes IL-6-mediated protection against dexamethasone-induced apoptosis. PS-341 blocks the paracrine growth of human MM cells by decreasing their adherence to BMSCs and related NF-kappaB-dependent induction of IL-6 secretion in BMSCs. Moreover, proliferation and MAPK growth signaling of those residual adherent MM cells is also inhibited. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), which is produced by some MM cells, induces only low-level MM proliferation and MAPK activation in MM cells, but markedly upregulates IL-6 secretion from BMSCs and upregulates expression of adhesion molecules (VLA-4 and LFA-1) on MM cells and their receptors (VCAM-1 and ICAM-1) on BMSCs, with resultant increased binding of MM cells to BMSCs. Inhibition of TNF-alpha-induced NF-kappaB activation with PS-341 inhibits both the upregulation of these molecules on MM cells and BMSCs and the resultant increased adhesion. Therefore, inhibiting TNF-alpha and its sequelae may be useful treatment strategies in MM. Our data show that VEGF causes proliferation and enhances migration of MM as well as plasma cell leukemia (PCL) cells. VEGF induced twofold activation of cell migration in MM cells and more than 100-fold activation of cell migration in PCL cells, suggesting an important role of VEGF in the progression of MM to PCL. These data indicate that VEGF plays a pivotal role not only in neoangiogenesis in MM BM but also in proliferation and migration of tumor cells.

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