Multiple myeloma (MM) patients develop devastating osteolytic bone disease causing non-healing bone fractures and pain. MM cells in the bone marrow microenvironment stimulate osteoclast activity and inhibit osteoblast and osteocyte function leading to massive bone resorption and therefore destruction. Bones have the capacity to locally adapt to changing loads and for self-repair and remodeling as dramatically seen in athletes during training. In this study we determined if mechanical loading can counterbalance osteolytic bone disease in the presence of established MM. We hypothesized that mechanical stimulation increases bone formation and decreases bone resorption by activating known bone (re)modeling pathways, which are deleteriously altered by MM cells in bone. We performed in vivo cyclic axial compressive tibial loading (Fig. 1) to MOPC315.BM BALB/c injected mice (n=19) with established MM bone disease (Fig. 2, bioluminescence imaging). The bone (re)modeling response to mechanical loading (5d/wk, over 3 wks) was investigated by longitudinal in vivo microCT imaging at days 14, 18, 23, 28 and 33 (Fig. 3, 4). Loading was administered to the left tibia starting 14 days after i.t. injection of left limbs of MOPC315.BM (n=10) and PBS (n=7) mice (left limb: εmax=2000µε determined by strain gauging, right limb was nonloaded). 15 mice served as nonloaded control mice (Fig. 3). We also analyzed a group of loaded, but not injected mice (n=10). MicroCT data (Fig. 3), such as cortical thickness (Ct.Th), cortical bone area (Ct.Ar) of loaded left limbs demonstrate that metaphyseal cortical bone formation was significantly greater and cortical porosity (Ct.Po) was lower compared to nonloaded control limbs. Our data provide for the first time an indication that mechanical loading counteracts MM induced bone loss over time. To further study mechanisms of mechanotransduction we used a small scale cell culture bioreactor system to analyze mechanical stimulation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and the translation of mechanical forces into biochemical signals. The bioreactor system allows for analysis of molecular mechanisms of mechanotransduction using a transcription factor activator protein (AP1) luciferase reporter gene construct. Cyclic stretching of telomerase immortalized hMSCs (hMSC-TERT cells) which were stably transfected by an AP1 construct resulted in stimulation of AP1 activity as measured by luciferase gene expression. We analyzed how MM cells interfere with mechanotransduction when co-cultured with hMSC-TERT cells. Our data show that in presence of MOPC315.BM cells and 2 (MM1S, INA-6) out of 4 human MM cell lines hMSCs can be mechanically stimulated and have osteogenic activity. In contrast the human MM cell lines Amo-1 and U266 inhibit the hMSC-TERT response to mechanical stimulation under these conditions. Biochemical and molecular genetic studies are underway to determine how MM cells in bone alter known bone (re)modeling pathways and which yet unanticipated factors regulate the anabolic response to mechanical loading in the MOPC315.BM model. Our study provides a first fundamental understanding of the mechano-biological mechanisms of anabolic bone adaption during MM bone disease in response to mechanical stimuli. We conclude that mechanical loading in the form of exercise has the potential to be a potent novel anabolic strategy for primary and secondary prevention of MM bone disease. Moreover dissection of the underlying molecular pathways will identify new targets for innovative antimyeloma strategies.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.