Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignant plasma cell disorder that accounts for approximately 10% of all hematological cancers. Despite recent advances, long-term survival is rare after autologous bone marrow transplantation (auto-BMT) and/or treatment with recently introduced anti-myeloma agents and disease recurs in virtually all patients. Allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (allo-BMT) is an effective treatment that can provide partial or complete remission in patients with MM. The therapeutic potential of allo-BMT is attributed to the "graft-versus-myeloma" (GvM) effect that aims to destroy residual tumor cells that survived an induction protocol of chemotherapy/radiotherapy and to maintain immune surveillance to prevent relapse. However, allo-BMT remains a controversial treatment, since the donor T cells that mediate the GvM effect are also the source of the cells that react to other tissue alloantigens and induce graft versus-host disease (GvHD), a major cause of morbidity and mortality in allo-BMT recipients. Nonetheless, allo-BMT remains the only potentially curable treatment for MM. Recently TCR Vβ CDR3-size spectratype analyses in an animal model of MM identified T cells subfamilies involved in the anti-host and anti-tumor reactivity. We have now carried this work further and tested the potential of integrating auto-BMT with a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) composed only of anti-MM reactive Vβ 2, 3 and 8.3 T cell subfamilies. The results demonstrate that these T cell subsets are indeed involved in the generation of a potent GvM response in MM bearing mice and is associated with enhanced survival. Importantly, the GvM response was not accompanied by the development of GvHD. Nonetheless, the GvM response was not sufficient to completely inhibit relapse. We then pre-stimulated donor T cells with MM cells in vitro in the presence of co-stimulatory factors and found that our selective DLI protocol induced a vigorous and long-lasting GvM which translated into long-term survival, again in the complete absence of GvHD. Interestingly, quite similar results were obtained by treating MM-bearing mice with repeat doses of naïve donor Vβ 2, 3 and 8.3 T cell subfamilies. The treated mice showed significantly lower serum paraprotein levels and myeloma infiltration in bone marrow and spleen. Taken together, the results suggest that a transplantation protocol involving only tumor cell-reactive donor T cell subfamilies might be devised for MM patients that results in a potent GvM with enhanced survival but without symptoms of GvHD.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.