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Blood. 2004 Apr 15;103(8):3175-84. Epub 2003 Dec 18.

Nuclear factor-kappaB and STAT3 are constitutively active in CD138+ cells derived from multiple myeloma patients, and suppression of these transcription factors leads to apoptosis.

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  • 1Department of Bioimmunotherapy, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030, USA.


Chemoresistance is a major problem in the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma (MM). Because of the central role of the nuclear transcription factors nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in chemoresistance, cell survival, and proliferation, we investigated whether MM cells derived from patients express activated NF-kappaB and STAT3 and if their suppression induces apoptosis. We assayed CD138+ cells from the bone marrow of 22 MM patients and checked for the activated forms of NF-kappaB and STAT3 by immunocytochemistry. We found that MM cells from all the patients expressed the activated forms of NF-kappaB and STAT3 but to a variable degree (NF-kappaB: low, 3 of 22; moderate, 5 of 22; or high, 14 of 22; STAT3: none, 1 of 22; low, 3 of 22; moderate, 5 of 22; or high, 14 of 22). Constitutive activation of NF-kappaB was in some cases also independently confirmed by electrophoretic mobility gel shift assay. In contrast to MM patients, activated forms of NF-kappaB and STAT3 were absent in cells from healthy individuals. Suppression of NF-kappaB and STAT3 activation in MM cells by ex vivo treatment with curcumin (diferuloylmethane) resulted in a decrease in adhesion to bone marrow stromal cells, cytokine secretion, and in the viability of cells. When compared with curcumin, dexamethasone was less effective in suppression of NF-kappaB activation and induction of apoptosis in myeloma cells. Overall, our results indicate that fresh cells from MM patients express constitutively active NF-kappaB and STAT3, and suppression of these transcription factors inhibits the survival of the cells.

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