Cell adhesion-mediated drug resistance (CAM-DR) by the bone marrow (BM) is fundamental to multiple myeloma (MM) propagation and survival. Targeting BM protection to increase the efficacy of current anti-myeloma treatment has not been extensively pursued. To extend the understanding of CAM-DR, we hypothesized that the cytotoxic effects of novel anti-myeloma agents may be abrogated by the presence of BM stroma cells (BMSCs) and restored by addition of the CXCL12 antagonist NOX-A12 or the CXCR4 inhibitor plerixafor. Following this hypothesis, we evaluated different anti-myeloma agents alone, with BMSCs and when combined with plerixafor or NOX-A12. We verified CXCR4, CD49d (also termed ITGA4) and CD44 as essential mediators of BM adhesion on MM cells. Additionally, we show that CXCR7, the second receptor of stromal-derived-factor-1 (CXCL12), is highly expressed in active MM. Co-culture proved that co-treatment with plerixafor or NOX-A12, the latter inhibiting CXCR4 and CXCR7, functionally interfered with MM chemotaxis to the BM. This led to the resensitization of MM cells to the anti-myeloma agents vorinostat and pomalidomide and both proteasome inhibitors bortezomib and carfilzomib. Within a multicentre phase I/II study, NOX-A12 was tested in combination with bortezomib-dexamethasone, underlining the feasibility of NOX-A12 as an active add-on agent to antagonize myeloma CAM-DR.
Keywords: adhesion molecules; drug resistance; multiple myeloma; stem cell mobilizing/homing; stroma cells.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.