In Multiple Myeloma (MM), but not in the monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS), the immune function is impaired as consequence of an immunologically hostile microenvironment and cellular defects, including reduction of immuno-surveillance and T-cell immunoparesis.
We conducted an study focused on the myeloid compartment in MM, and its role in the progression from MGUS to MM.
Between January 2009 and April 2011 peripheral blood obtained from 60 consecutive newly diagnosed MM and 70 MGUS plus 30 healthy subjects was studied for evaluation of myeloid subpopulations and lymphoid paresis.
Myeloid dysfunction was evaluated as percentage and absolute count of circulating myeloid suppressor cells (MDSC) in peripheral blood assessed by flow cytometry as follows: im-MDSC (CD34+/CD11b+/CD13+/CD14-/ HLA-DR-/CD45+), neutrophilic-like N-MDSC (CD11b+/CD13+/CD15+/CD14-/HLA-DR-/Lin-) and monocytic-like mo-MDSC (CD14+/HLA-DRlow/-).
Myeloid function was evaluated by phagocytic activity using a commercially available kit (Phagotest R).
Further, we investigated whether MM-neutrophils were able to induce anergy in T-cells. Neutrophils isolated from healthy donor (N=6), MGUS (N=3) or MM (N=6) peripheral blood (PB) were co-cultured with T-lymphocytes obtained from healthy donors. Expression of markers of activation in response to stimulation with PHA-P for 2 hours was assessed by flow cytometry as antigen density expressed as normalized mean of fluorescence intensity (N-MFI) of CD71 at 48 hours.
The capability of phagocytosis of in neutrophils and monocytes from MM patients at diagnosis was significantly reduced compared to healthy subjects (p<0.001) and MGUS (p<0.0001). While the mature suppressive N-MDSC subset was not increased in MGUS and MM patients, the mo-MDSC subpopulation showed an increasing trend from healthy donors through MM (p=0.06) and the im-MDSC subset was significantly higher in MM vs healthy (p=0.002) and MGUS (p=0.001).
After PHA-P stimulation, expression of CD71 (a marker of activation) in normal T-lymphocytes was increased (2954 ± 240.6 arbitrary units, au), and it was reduced (751.3 ± 30.48 au, p=0.0001) when co-coltured with MM-neutrophils, while no differences were evident in co-colture with MGUS- (2783 ± 206.1 au, p=0.61) or healthy donors-neutrophils (2588 ± 135.4, p=0.38).
Taken together, our findings suggest that in MM but not in MGUS there is a myeloid cell dysfunction that is correlated to impairment of T- cell arm. These alterations may have a role in the development of MM.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.