Abstract 1836

Poster Board I-862


The neutralizing anti-interleukin (IL)-6 monoclonal antibody (MAb) CNTO 328 acts in an additive to synergistic manner to enhance the activity of bortezomib and dexamethasone against models of multiple myeloma by suppressing several IL-6-induced anti-apoptotic signaling pathways. We therefore sought to evaluate the possibility that blockade of IL-6 signaling could also augment the activity of melphalan, and to determine the potential mechanisms underlying this interaction.


A panel of myeloma cell lines was studied both in suspension and with bone marrow stromal cells to evaluate the activity of CNTO 328 with and without melphalan. The CNTO 328 + melphalan combination was also tested in primary cells from patients with a variety of plasma cell dyscrasias.


Treatment of IL-6-dependent KAS-6/1, INA-6, and ANBL-6 myeloma cell lines with CNTO 328 + melphalan reduced plasma cell viability in an additive-to-synergistic manner compared to melphalan with a control MAb. Isobologram analysis demonstrated that the combination was synergistic in KAS-6/1 cells regardless of the sequence of drug treatment (combination indices (CIs) from 0.275-0.607), although the strongest synergy was seen with CNTO 328 pretreatment (CIs from 0.275-0.493). These anti-proliferative effects were accompanied by an enhanced activation of drug-specific apoptosis, and this increased cell death was not rescued by the trophic effects of co-culture of plasma cells with the human-derived stromal cell line HS-5. CNTO 328 increased melphalan-mediated induction of both extrinsic, caspase-8-mediated apoptosis, as well as intrinsic, caspase-9-mediated death, which converged to produce increased levels of caspase-3 activity. Apoptosis was enhanced in part by CNTO 328-stimulated cleavage of Bid to tBid, and alterations in the phosphorylation status of BimEL, as well as increased conversion of Bak and, to a lesser extent, of Bax, to their active forms. Neutralization of IL-6 by CNTO 328 also suppressed signaling through the protein kinase B/Akt pathway, as evidenced by decreased levels of phospho-Akt, and decreased activation of several downstream Akt targets, including p70 S6 kinase and 4E-BP1. Importantly, CNTO 328 + melphalan showed enhanced anti-proliferative effects compared to melphalan and a control MAb against primary CD138+ plasma cells derived from patients with multiple myeloma, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, and amyloidosis, while demonstrating less toxicity to stromal cells. The enhanced effect of the CNTO 328 + melphalan combination was statistically significant compared to either drug alone (p<0.05) in CD138+ cells isolated from patients who had not received prior melphalan therapy.


These studies provide a rationale for translation of CNTO 328 into the clinic in combination with melphalan-based therapies, including either high dose therapy in transplant-eligible patients, or standard dose melphalan-containing induction regimens in transplant-ineligible patients, such as with the combination of bortezomib, melphalan, and prednisone.


Voorhees:Millennium Pharmaceuticals: Speakers Bureau; Celgene: Speakers Bureau. Xie:Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.: Employment. Cornfeld:Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.: Employment. Nemeth:Centocor Ortho Biotech Inc.: Employment.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.