Introduction: Multiple myeloma (MM) is a plasma cell neoplasm that is mostly incurable due to acquired resistance during the treatment course. Thus, we evaluated expression and release of glucose-regulated protein 78 kDa (GRP78/BiP), an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) based pro-survival chaperone involved in immunoglobulin folding and unfolded protein responses.
Results: GRP78 protein expression in the ER and on the cell surface did not significantly differ between MGUS, NDMM and RRMM patients although there was a trend to higher surface expression in RRMM. In bone marrow plasma, the amount of released GRP78 protein was not significantly increased between MGUS-, NDMM- and RRMM patients. MM cells of the three cell lines release GRP78 as full-length protein under apoptotic, but not under acidotic or ER-stress conditions. In necrosis, only proteolytic fragments of GRP78 were detected in supernatants of MM cells.
Materials and methods: GRP78 protein expression and plasma levels were quantified in bone marrow aspirates of patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS, n = 29), newly diagnosed MM (NDMM, n = 29) and with relapsed/refractory MM (RRMM, n = 15) by immunohistochemistry and sandwich ELISA. The human MM cell lines U266, NCI-H929 and OPM-2 were used for functional GRP78 release- and processing studies after induction of acidosis, ER stress, apoptosis and necrosis.
Conclusions: Ectopic expression of GRP78 on cell membrane or its release in the microenvironment is not a suitable marker to distinguish MGUS from NDMM and RRMM.
Keywords: ELISA; GRP78; MGUS; multiple myeloma; prognostic marker.