We have recently shown that peripheral blood T cells of multiple myeloma (MM) patients are very susceptible to stimulation of the T-cell receptor/CD3 complex with anti-CD3 monoclonal antibodies (MoAbs). CD3 stimulation is currently under clinical investigation as a nonspecific approach to boost antitumor effector mechanisms. The aim of this study was to determine whether the hyperreactivity of MM T cells to CD3 stimulation could be exploited to generate antitumor activity. Bone marrow mononuclear cells (BMMCs) from 65 MM patients were stimulated with the anti-CD3 MoAb OKT3 and the effect of this stimulation on autologous T cells and plasma cells was evaluated. The number of CD3+ CD25+ cells on day 6 was significantly higher in MM than the controls (30 normal individuals) (P = .001). Kinetic studies showed that 3H- thymidine incorporation peaked on day 3 and that the T-cell expansion peaked on days 5 and 6. In MM, T-cell activation markedly affected the survival of autologous plasma cells; their number in OKT3-treated cultures was significantly lower than in unstimulated cultures (P < .0001). T-cell activation and plasma cell decrease were not observed when T cells were removed from BMMC preparations. MM produced significantly higher levels of interferon-gamma (P = .005) and tumor necrosis factor-beta (P = .001), but lower levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (P < .001) than normal individuals. Interferon-gamma only was partially involved in CD3-induced plasma cell killing. Transwell cultures showed that the main mechanism by which CD3+ CD25+ cells affected plasma cells was direct cell-to-cell contact rather than cytokines. In conclusion, T cells in MM BMMCs possess distinct features in terms of susceptibility to CD3 stimulation and cytokine production compared with normal bone marrow T cells that can be exploited to generate antiplasma cell activity.

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