Abstract

Intra-tumoral heterogeneity (ITH) is increasingly viewed as the Achilles heel of treatment failure in malignant disease including multiple myeloma (MM). Most MM patients harbor focal lesions (FL) that are recognized on MRI long before bone destruction is detectable by conventional X-ray examination. Serial MRI examinations show that eventually 60% of patients will achieve resolution of FL (MRI-CR). However, this will lag behind the onset of a clinical CR by 18 to 24 months, thus attesting to the biological differences between FL and diffuse MM growth patterns. Consequently, we performed concurrent gene expression profiling (GEP) analyses of plasma cells (PC) from both random bone marrow (RBM) via iliac crest and FL. Our primary aims were to first compare the molecular profiles of FL vs. RBM, second to determine if ITH existed (as defined molecular subgroup and risk), and finally to investigate if the bone marrow micro-environment (ME) contained a biologically interesting signature.

A total of 176 patients were available for this study with a breakdown of: TT3 (n=23), TT4 for low-risk (n=131) and TT5 for high-risk MM (n=22). Regarding the molecular analyses of PCs, GEP-based risk (GEP-70, GEP-5) and molecular subgroup correspondence were examined for commonalties and differences between RBM and FL. A “filtering” approach for ME genes was also developed and bone marrow biopsy (BMBx) GEP data derived from this method is under analysis.

PC risk correspondence between FL and RBM was 86% for GEP70 and 88% for the GEP5 model. Additionally, 82% had a molecular subgroup concordance, however, they did differ among subgroups (p=0.020) by Fisher's Exact Test. A lower concordance was noted in the CD2, LB, and PR subgroups (67%, 69%, 73%, respectively). GEP70 and GEP5 risk concordance between RBM and FL samples by molecular subgroup was also examined. The overall correlation coefficients were 0.619 (GEP70) and 0.597 (GEP5). The best correspondence was noted for CD1, MF and PR subgroups especially for the GEP5 model. HY, LB and MS showed intermediate correlations, while CD2 fared worst with values of only 0.322 for GEP70 and 0.267 for GEP5 model. Figure 1 portrays these data in more detail for the GEP70 and GEP5 models. Good correlations were noted between RBM and FL based risk scores in case of molecular subgroup concordance (left panels) in both GEP5 and GEP70 risk models, whereas considerable scatter existed in case of subgroup discordance (right panels). The clinical implications in TT4 regarding RBM and FL derived risk and molecular subgroup information, viewed in the context of standard prognostic baseline variables are portrayed in Table 1. High B2M levels at both cut-points imparted inferior OS and PFS as did low hemoglobin. Although present in 42% of patients, cytogenetic abnormalities (CA) did not affect outcomes. FL-based GEP5-defined high-risk designation conferred poor OS and PFS. B2M>5.5mg/L and FL-derived GEP5 high-risk MM, pertaining to 29% and 11% of patients, survived the multivariate model for both OS and PFS. Next, in examining PC-GEP differences among RBM and FL sites, 199 gene probes were identified with a false discovery rate (FDR) of 1x10-6. Additionally, 55 of the 199 belong to four molecular networks of inter related genes associated with: lipid metabolism, cellular movement, growth and proliferation, and cell-to-cell interactions. Multivariate analysis identified the GEP5 high risk designation of focal lesion PCs to be significantly prognostic with a HR=3.73 (p=0.023).
Table 1

Cox regression analysis of variables linked to overall and progression-free survival in TT4.

 Overall Survival Progression-Free Survival 
 Variable n/N (%) HR (95% CI) P-value HR (95% CI) P-value 
Multivariate B2M > 5.5 mg/L 38/130 (29%) 3.71 (1.49, 9.22) 0.005 3.84 (1.58, 9.31) 0.003 
 FL GEP5 High Risk 14/130 (11%) 3.68 (1.19, 11.41) 0.024 3.73 (1.20, 11.62) 0.023 
 Overall Survival Progression-Free Survival 
 Variable n/N (%) HR (95% CI) P-value HR (95% CI) P-value 
Multivariate B2M > 5.5 mg/L 38/130 (29%) 3.71 (1.49, 9.22) 0.005 3.84 (1.58, 9.31) 0.003 
 FL GEP5 High Risk 14/130 (11%) 3.68 (1.19, 11.41) 0.024 3.73 (1.20, 11.62) 0.023 

HR- Hazard Ratio, 95% CI- 95% Confidence Interval, P-value from Wald Chi-Square Test in Cox Regression

NS2- Multivariate results not statistically significant at 0.05 level. All univariate p-values reported regardless of significance.

Multivariate model uses stepwise selection with entry level 0.1 and variable remains if meets the 0.05 level.

A multivariate p-value greater than 0.05 indicates variable forced into model with significant variables chosen using stepwise selection.

Disclosures:

No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

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Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.