Abstract

Multiple myeloma (MM) is a B-cell malignancy characterized by the accumulation, primarily in bone marrow, of a clone of plasma cells. The nature of the stem cells feeding the tumoral compartment is still unknown. To investigate this special point, we have studied the phenotypes of nine well-known human myeloma cell lines (HMCLs) and compared them with those of normal lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs). Twenty-four clusters of differentiation involved in B lymphopoiesis were investigated using a panel of 65 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs). For each cluster, the percentage of positive cells and the antigen density were determined, giving rise to a “quantitative phenotype”. We thus classified the HMCLs into two different groups: those with cytoplasmic mu chains (c mu+) and those without (c mu-). In the first (c mu+) group, comprising seven cell lines, the HMCLs had a phenotype of pre-B/B cells close to that of Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines. They expressed low densities of surface mu chains, without detectable cytoplasmic or surface light chains. Three of them were infected with the Epstein Barr virus (EBV). These c mu+ HMCLs bore most of the B-cell antigens except CD23. They expressed the CALLA antigen (CD10) and lacked the plasma-cell antigen PCA1. In contrast, LCLs expressed surface light chains, high densities of CD23, low densities of PCA1 antigen, and no CD10 antigen. The c mu- HMCLs had a plasma-cell phenotype, lacking most of the B-cell antigens and expressing high densities of PCA1 antigen.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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