Long-term survival in multiple myeloma is associated with a distinct immunological profile, which includes proliferative cytotoxic T-cell clones and a favourable Treg/Th17 balance

Nature Publishing Group
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Journal Article
Blood Cancer Journal, 2013, 3 pp. 1 - 7
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Despite improved outcomes in multiple myeloma (MM), a cure remains elusive. However, even before the current therapeutic era, 5% of patients survived for >10 years and we propose that immune factors contribute to this longer survival. We identified patients attending our clinic, who had survived for >10 years (n=20) and analysed their blood for the presence of T-cell clones, T-regulatory cells (Tregs) and T helper 17 (Th17) cells. These results were compared with MM patients with shorter follow-up and age-matched healthy control donors. The frequency of cytotoxic T-cell clonal expansions in patients with <10 years follow-up (MM patients) was 54% (n=144), whereas it was 100% (n=19/19) in the long-survivors (LTS-MM). T-cell clones from MM patients proliferated poorly in vitro, whereas those from LTS-MM patients proliferated readily (median proliferations 6.1% and 61.5%, respectively (P<0.0001)). In addition, we found significantly higher Th17 cells and lower Tregs in the LTS-MM group when compared with the MM group. These results indicate that long-term survival in MM is associated with a distinct immunological profile, which is consistent with decreased immune suppression.
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