Background: Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a B-cell malignancy in which clonal plasma cells progressively expand within the bone marrow (BM) as effect of complex interactions with extracellular matrix and a number of microenvironmental cells. Among these, cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) mediate crucial reciprocal signals with MM cells and are associated to aggressive disease and poor prognosis. A large body of evidence emphasizes the role of the urokinase plasminogen activator (u-PA) and its receptor u-PAR in potentiating the invasion capacity of tumor plasma cells, but little is known about their role in the biology of MM CAF. In this study, we investigated the u-PA/u-PAR axis in MM-associated fibroblasts and explore additional mechanisms of tumor/stroma interplay in MM progression. Methods: CAF were purified from total BM stromal fraction of 64 patients including monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance, asymptomatic and symptomatic MM, as well as MM in post-treatment remission. Flow cytometry, Real Time PCR and immunofluorescence were performed to investigate the u-PA/u-PAR system in relation to the level of activation of CAF at different stages of the disease. Moreover, proliferation and invasion assays coupled with silencing experiments were used to prove, at functional level, the function of u-PAR in CAF. Results: We found higher activation level, along with increased expression of pro-invasive molecules, including u-PA, u-PAR and metalloproteinases, in CAF from patients with symptomatic MM compared to the others stages of the disease. Consistently, CAF from active MM as well as U266 cell line under the influence of medium conditioned by active MM CAF, display higher proliferative rate and invasion potential, which were significantly restrained by u-PAR gene expression inhibition. Conclusions: Our data suggest that the stimulation of u-PA/u-PAR system contributes to the activated phenotype and function of CAF during MM progression, providing a biological rationale for future targeted therapies against MM.
- Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF)
- Fibroblast activation
- Multiple myeloma microenvironment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research