Myelomagenesis: capturing early microenvironment changes

Semin Hematol. 2011 Jan;48(1):13-21. doi: 10.1053/j.seminhematol.2010.11.004.


Plasma cell neoplasms result from the clonal expansion of terminally differentiated, immunoglobulin heavy-chain class switched B cells that typically secrete a monoclonal immunoglobulin. The 2008 World Health Organization (WHO) classification of plasma cell neoplasms encompasses a broad spectrum of disorders, from the precursor disorder monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to plasma cell leukemia. The classification includes, in addition to precursor lesion MGUS, plasma cell myeloma, plasmacytoma, immunoglobulin deposition diseases, and osteosclerotic myeloma. Plasma cell myeloma is further divided into symptomatic plasma cell myeloma or multiple myeloma (MM), asymptomatic smoldering myeloma (SMM), non-secretory myeloma, and plasma cell leukemia. Although histopathologic cut-off criteria are incorporated into the classification schema, distinction between MGUS, SMM, and MM depends primarily on the presence or absence of end-organ damage, as defined by "CRAB" criteria (hypercalcemia, renal insufficiency, anemia, lytic bone lesions, or a combination of these). Systematic evaluation of pathogenetic differences between MGUS and MM should offer invaluable insights into early myelomagenesis. Given the complex, intertwined nature of the malignant plasma cell and its surroundings, multiple pathogenetic mechanisms play a critical role in interactions between neoplastic cells and their microenvironment. Understanding the events leading to end-organ damage, like anemia and bone remodeling, is a critical part of investigating early myelomagenesis and should provide us with better tools for early identification and treatment of these patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Humans
  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance / diagnosis
  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance / immunology
  • Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance / pathology*
  • Multiple Myeloma / diagnosis
  • Multiple Myeloma / immunology
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic