CD38 expression on myeloma cells is a critical factor affecting the early response to the anti-CD38 antibody daratumumab. However, factors affecting CD38 expression in untreated multiple myeloma are not fully elucidated. In this study, we found that CD38 expression was significantly lower in myeloma patients with the translocation t(11;14)-associated immature plasma cell phenotype, and particularly in those expressing B–cell-associated genes such as PAX5 and CD79A. CD138, a representative marker of plasmacytic differentiation, was also significantly lower in these patients, suggesting that CD38 expression may be associated with the differentiation and maturation stages of myeloma cells. Furthermore, the BCL2/BCL2L1 ratio, a response marker of the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax, was significantly higher in patients with the immature phenotype expressing B–cell-associated genes. The BCL2/BCL2L1 ratio and CD38 expression were significantly negatively correlated. We also confirmed that patients with translocation t(11;14) expressing B–cell-associated genes were indeed less sensitive to daratumumab-mediated direct cytotoxicity but highly sensitive to venetoclax treatment in ex vivo assays. Moreover, all-trans-retinoic acid, which enhances CD38 expression and induces cell differentiation in myeloma cells, reduced B-cell marker expression and the BCL2/BCL2L1 ratio in myeloma cell lines, leading to reduced efficacy of venetoclax. Venetoclax specifically induces cell death in myeloma with t(11;14), although why patients with translocation t(11;14) show BCL2 dependence is unclear. These results suggest that BCL2 dependence, as well as CD38 expression, are deeply associated with the differentiation and maturation stages of myeloma cells. This study highlights the importance of examining t(11;14) and considering cell maturity in myeloma treatment strategies.
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - Sept 2021|
- multiple myeloma
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research