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Blood. 1993 Jul 15;82(2):564-70.

Identification of immature and mature myeloma cells in the bone marrow of human myelomas.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Research Institute for Nuclear Medicine and Biology, Hiroshima University, Japan.


With regard to the expression of adhesion molecules, human myeloma cells freshly isolated from bone marrow were heterogeneous. By two-color analysis with anti-VLA-5 antibody (PE staining) and FITC-labeled anti-CD38 antibody, we found all myeloma cells located at CD38-strong positive (CD38++) fraction and identified two subpopulations among these myeloma cells: CD38++ VLA-5-(VLA-5-) myeloma cells and CD38++ VLA-5+ (VLA-5+) myeloma cells. To clarify the biologic character of these two subpopulations, the morphology, in vitro proliferative activity and in vitro M-protein secretion were examined in each fraction isolated by the purification procedure or a cell sorter. Morphologic examination showed that VLA-5- myeloma cells were mostly immature or plasmablastic and VLA-5+ cells were mature myeloma cells. Furthermore, VLA-5- myeloma cells proliferated markedly in vitro and responded to interleukin 6 (IL-6), a growth factor for myeloma cells, while VLA-5+ myeloma cells showed very low uptakes of 3H-thymidine and no responses to IL-6 but secreted higher amounts of M-protein (immunoglobulin) in vitro significantly. Therefore, we could clarify here heterogeneity of human myeloma cells in the bone marrow with regard to the expression of VLA-5, one of integrin adhesion molecules; VLA-5- myeloma cells were proliferative immature cells and VLA-5+ cells were mature myeloma cells.

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