Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by the accumulation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow (BM) and is closely associated with osteolytic lesions, in part due to an increase in the bone-resorptive activity and number of osteoclasts (OCs). The activation of survival pathways in myeloma cells could be the cause of treatment failure rendering the disease incurable. Pim kinases are a family of survival serine/threonine kinases composed of three members (Pim1, Pim2 and Pim3) that are overexpressed in MM cells and may have a role in MM pathogenesis. However, little is known about the role of Pim kinases in OCs and its involvement in myeloma bone disease. Here, we have evaluated the preclinical activity of a new pan-Pim kinase inhibitor, LGH447, on MM cells and OCs.

Cell lines, primary samples, material and methods

LGH447 was provided by Novartis Pharmaceuticals. The human MM cell lines MM1S, MM1R, RPMI-8226 (or RPMI-8226-luc), RPMI-LR5, MM144, NCI-H929, OPM-2, U266, U266-Dox4 and U266-LR7 were employed. PBMCs from healthy volunteers were used to generate OCs, whereas primary mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) were obtained from bone marrow aspirates of MM patients. Cell viability was studied using MTT colorimetric assay or bioluminescence. Apoptosis was measured by annexin-V staining. For cell cycle analysis, propidium iodide staining was used. OC formation was assessed by enumeration of multinucleated (≥3) TRAP-positive cells and OC resorption was assessed on calcium-coated slides. Immunoblotting, quantitative PCR and immunofluorescence were used to further investigate the mechanism of action of LGH447.


All MM cell lines expressed the three isoforms of Pim kinases with higher levels of Pim2. The dose-response curves to LGH447 after a 48 hour treatment revealed two groups of MM cell lines with regard to sensitivity to this drug: high sensitive, with IC50 values ranging from 0.2 to 3.3 µM (MM1S, MM1R, RPMI-8226, MM144, U266 and NCI-H929); and low sensitive, with IC50 values >7 µM (OPM-2, RPMI-LR5, U266-Dox4 and U266-LR7). Our results indicated that LGH447 promoted apoptosis in myeloma cells as shown by the increase in annexin-V positive cells and by the cleavage of initiator (caspases 8 and 9) and effector caspases (caspases 3 and 7) and of PARP. LGH447 also blocked the cell cycle in MM cells as demonstrated by the increase in G0-G1 and the decrease in S-G2-M phases. Importantly, LGH447 was also able to overcome the growth advantage conferred to RPMI-8226-luc cells by co-culture with MSCs or OCs. Regarding the mechanisms involved in these effects, LGH447 inhibited the mTOR pathway, demonstrated by a decreased phosphorylation of the downstream mTOR effectors, 4EBP1 and S6 in residues Thr37/46 and Ser235/236, respectively. Interestingly, LGH447 also inhibited OC formation and resorption activity. LGH447 treatment of human pre-OCs diminished the expression of key molecules involved in OC differentiation (p-Erk1/2 and NFATc1) and function [CAII (carbonic anhidrase II), CLCN7 (chloride channel 7), ATP6V1A (vacuolar-H+-ATPase catalytic subunit A1) and MMP9 (matrix metalloproteinase 9)] and also disrupted the F-actin ring necessary for OC effective resorption.


Overall, our results demonstrate that both MM cells and OCs are targets of the pan-Pim kinase inhibitor, LGH447. Therefore, the inhibition of Pim kinases could potentially provide a dual benefit in myeloma patients as a consequence of cytotoxic effects exerted on MM cells and an anti-resorptive activity on bone.

This work was supported by funding from the Fundación Española de Hematología y Hemoterapia (AG-G), Centro en Red de Medicina Regenerativa y Terapia Celular de Castilla y León, the RTICC-Hematology Group (RD12/0036/0058), Spanish FIS (PI12/02591) and the Junta de Castilla y León, Gerencia Regional de Salud (GRS 862/A/13).


Off Label Use: LGH447 is a pan-Pim kinase inhibitor (Novartis Pharmaceuticals). It has been used for pre-clinical studies in multiple myeloma.

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