Bone marrow fibroblasts parallel multiple myeloma progression in patients and mice: In vitro and in vivo studies

M. A. Frassanito, L. Rao, M. Moschetta, R. Ria, L. Di Marzo, A. De Luisi, V. Racanelli, I. Catacchio, S. Berardi, A. Basile, E. Menu, S. Ruggieri, B. Nico, D. Ribatti, R. Fumarulo, F. Dammacco, K. Vanderkerken, A. Vacca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The role of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) has not been previously studied in multiple myeloma (MM). Here, cytofluorimetric analysis revealed higher proportions of bone marrow (BM) CAFs in patients with active MM (both at diagnosis and relapse) compared with patients in remission or those with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or deficiency anemia (controls). CAFs from MM patients produced increased levels of transforming growth factor-β, interleukin-6, stromal cell-derived factor-1, insulin-like growth factor-1, vascular endothelial growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-2 and displayed an activated and heterogeneous phenotype, which supported their origin from resident fibroblasts, endothelial cells and hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells via the endothelial-mesenchymal transition as well as mesenchymal stem cells via the mesenchymal transition, as both of these processes are induced by MM cells and CAFs. Active MM CAFs fostered chemotaxis, adhesion, proliferation and apoptosis resistance in MM cells through cytokine signals and cell-to-cell contact, which were inhibited by blocking CXCR4, several integrins and fibronectin. MM cells also induced the CAFs proliferation. In syngeneic 5T33MM and xenograft mouse models, MM cells induced the expansion of CAFs, which, in turn, promoted MM initiation and progression as well as angiogenesis. In BM biopsies from patients and mice, nests of CAFs were found in close contact with MM cells, suggesting a supportive niche. Therefore, the targeting of CAFs in MM patients may be envisaged as a novel therapeutic strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)904-916
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • cancer-associated fibroblasts
  • multiple myeloma
  • tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Cancer Research
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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