Abstract 1812

Poster Board I-838

Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of immunoglobulin (Ig)-synthesizing plasma cells, that home to and expand in the bone marrow. Similarly to other tumours its development is correlated to the formation of regions of hypoxia, which may be a prognostic indicator and determinant of malignant progression. It is known how in solid tumours the degree of intra-tumoral hypoxia is positively correlated with the expression of the transcription factor hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1). HIF-1 is composed of HIF-1á and HIF-1β subunits and its production has been identified as a key element in allowing cells to adapt and survive in a hostile hypoxic environment via a variety of pathways. In hypoxia conditions, the HIF-1á subunit becomes stable and regulates the expression of target genes. When activated HIF-1á also targets those genes which are required for angiogenesis, the development of new blood vessels from an existing vascular network. Angiogenesis represents a constant hallmark of MM progression. In response to hypoxia plasma cells and stromal cells (endothelial cells [ECs], macrophages, mast cells) within the tumour express Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), a mitogen and survival factor specific for endothelial cells. VEGF is the major regulator of tumor-associated angiogenesis. HIF-1á directly activates transcription of the VEGF gene and this leads to autocrine signal transduction that is critical for angiogenesis.

In this study we demonstrate the role of HIF-1á in MM angiogenesis. The constitutive stabilization of HIF-1á contributes to increase angiogenesis in MM. Our data show that HIF-1á is stabilized in the nucleus of MM endothelial cells (MMECs) but not in ECs of Monoclonal Gammopathies of Undetermined Significance (MGECs) and in Human Umbilical Vein ECs (HUVECs) used as controls. Western Blot and Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) analyses show the overexpression of HIF-1á and the proteic products of its target genes VEGF and VEGF Receptor (VEGFR)-1, in patients with relapsed disease and in MM progression but not in patients with nonactive MM (avascular phase). Moreover, immunofluorescent staining confirm the nuclear stabilization of HIF-1á in MMECs.

At mRNA level all ECs express same quantity of HIF-1á mRNA, as confirmed by RT-PCR and Real-time RT-PCR, indicating that in MMECs the post-trascriptional control is affected. Finally, we show that the inhibition of HIF-1á by siRNA suppresses vessel formation in vitro and promote ECs apoptosis. Our findings indicate that HIF-1á plays an important role in MM progression and that it is correlated to the angiogenic switch from nonactive MM to active MM. Furthermore these data suggest that HIF-1á may represent a target for the MM antiangiogenic treatment.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.