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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Jan 15;18(2):342-9. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-11-2212. Epub 2011 Nov 7.

Multiple myeloma mesenchymal stem cells: characterization, origin, and tumor-promoting effects.

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  • 1Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02215, USA.


Hematologic malignancies rely heavily on support from host cells through a number of well-documented mechanisms. Host cells, specifically mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), support tumor cell growth, metastasis, survival, bone marrow colonization, and evasion of the immune system. In multiple myeloma, similar to solid tumors, supporting cells have typically been considered healthy host cells. However, recent evidence reveals that many MSCs derived from patients with multiple myeloma (MM-MSC) show significant defects compared with MSCs from nondiseased donors (ND-MSC). These abnormalities range from differences in gene and protein expression to allelic abnormalities and can initiate after less than 1 day of coculture with myeloma cells or persist for months, perhaps years, after removal from myeloma influence. Alterations in MM-MSC function contribute to disease progression and provide new therapeutic targets. However, before the scientific community can capitalize on the distinctions between MM-MSCs and ND-MSCs, a number of confusions must be clarified, as we have done in this review, including the origin(s) of MM-MSCs, identification and characterization of MM-MSCs, and downstream effects and feedback circuits that support cancer progression. Further advances require more genetic analysis of MM-MSCs and disease models that accurately represent MSC-MM cell interactions.

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