Functional insights into nucleotide-metabolizing ectoenzymes expressed by bone marrow-resident cells in patients with multiple myeloma

A L Horenstein, F Morandi, C Bracci, V Pistoia, F Malavasi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Human myeloma cells grow in a hypoxic acidic niche in the bone marrow. Cross talk among cellular components of this closed niche generates extracellular adenosine, which promotes tumor cell survival. This is achieved through the binding of adenosine to purinergic receptors into complexes that function as an autocrine/paracrine signal factor with immune regulatory activities that i) down-regulate the functions of most immune effector cells and ii) enhance the activity of cells that suppress anti-tumor immune responses, thus facilitating the escape of malignant myeloma cells from immune surveillance. Here we review recent findings confirming that the dominant phenotype for survival of tumor cells is that where the malignant cells have been metabolically reprogrammed for the generation of lactic acidosis in the bone marrow niche. Adenosine triphosphate and nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide extruded from tumor cells, along with cyclic adenosine monophosphate, are the main intracellular energetic/messenger molecules that serve as leading substrates in the extracellular space for membrane-bound ectonucleotidases metabolizing purine nucleotides to signaling adenosine. Within this mechanistic framework, the adenosinergic substrate conversion can vary significantly according to the metabolic environment. Indeed, the neoplastic expansion of plasma cells exploits both enzymatic networks and hypoxic acidic conditions for migrating and homing to a protected niche and for evading the immune response. The expression of multiple specific adenosine receptors in the niche completes the profile of a complex regulatory framework whose signals modify multiple myeloma and host immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalImmunology Letters
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Nov 15 2018


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