CD38: A Target for Immunotherapeutic Approaches in Multiple Myeloma

Front Immunol. 2018 Nov 28;9:2722. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02722. eCollection 2018.


Multiple Myeloma (MM) is a hematological cancer characterized by proliferation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow (BM). MM represents the second most frequent hematological malignancy, accounting 1% of all cancer and 13% of hematological tumors, with ~9,000 new cases per year. Patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and asymptomatic smoldering MM (SMM) usually evolve to active MM in the presence of increased tumor burden, symptoms and organ damage. Despite the role of high dose chemotherapy in combination with autologous stem cell transplantation and the introduction of new treatments, the prognosis of MM patients is still poor, and novel therapeutic approaches have been tested in the last years, including new immunomodulatory drugs, proteasome inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). CD38 is a glycoprotein with ectoenzymatic functions, which is expressed on plasma cells and other lymphoid and myeloid cell populations. Since its expression is very high and uniform on myeloma cells, CD38 is a good target for novel therapeutic strategies. Among them, immunotherapy represents a promising approach. Here, we summarized recent findings regarding CD38-targeted immunotherapy of MM in pre-clinical models and clinical trials, including (i) mAbs (daratumumab and isatuximab), (ii) radioimmunotherapy, and (iii) adoptive cell therapy, using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-transfected T cells specific for CD38. Finally, we discussed the efficacy and possible limitations of these therapeutic approaches for MM patients.

Keywords: CD38; clinical trials; immunotherapy; multiple myeloma; preclinical models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1 / immunology*
  • Adoptive Transfer / methods*
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / immunology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / immunology*
  • Multiple Myeloma / immunology
  • Multiple Myeloma / pathology
  • Multiple Myeloma / therapy*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / immunology*
  • Radioimmunotherapy / methods*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • daratumumab
  • CD38 protein, human
  • ADP-ribosyl Cyclase 1
  • isatuximab