• MM patients have increased CD16/CD226Low NK cell subsets characterized by adhesion defects and reduced effector functions.

  • The frequency of CD16/CD226low NK cells correlate with MM patient clinical outcome

The promising results obtained with immunotherapeutic approaches for multiple myeloma (MM) call for a better stratification of patients based on immune components. The most pressing being cytotoxic lymphocytes such as Natural Killer (NK) cells that are mandatory for MM surveillance and therapy. In this study, we performed a single cell RNA sequencing analysis of NK cells from 10 MM patients and 10 age/sex matched healthy donors (HD) that revealed important transcriptomic changes in NK cell landscape affecting both the bone marrow and peripheral blood compartment. The frequency of mature cytotoxic "CD56dim" NK cell subsets was reduced in MM patients at the advantage of late-stage NK cell subsets expressing NFB and IFN-I inflammatory signatures. These NK cell subsets accumulating in MM patients were characterized by a low CD16 and CD226 expression and poor cytotoxic functions. MM CD16/CD226Lo NK cells also had adhesion defects with reduced LFA-1 integrin activation and actin polymerization that may account for their limited effector functions in vitro. Finally, analysis of BM infiltrating NK cells in a retrospective cohort of 177 MM patients from the IFM 2009 trial demonstrated that a high frequency of NK cells and their low CD16 and CD226 expression were associated with a shorter overall survival. Thus, CD16/CD226Lo NK cells with reduced effector functions accumulate along MM development and negatively impact patients' clinical outcome. Given the growing interest in harnessing NK cells to treat myeloma, this improved knowledge around MM-associated NK cell dysfunction will stimulate the development of more efficient immunotherapeutic drugs against MM.

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