Background: Induction therapy of multiple myeloma patients prior to autologous stem cell transplantation has changed from conventional chemotherapy to treatment based on proteasome inhibitors or immunomodulatory drugs. We used flow cytometry to analyze total monocyte and monocyte subset (classical, intermediate and non-classical monocytes) peripheral blood levels before and following auto-transplantation for a consecutive group of myeloma patients who had received the presently used induction therapy.
Results: The patients showed normal total monocyte concentrations after induction/stem cell mobilization, but the concentrations of classical monocytes were increased compared with healthy controls. Melphalan conditioning reduced the levels of total CD14+ as well as classical and non-classical monocytes, whereas intermediate monocytes were not affected. Thus, melphalan has a non-random effect on monocyte subsets. Melphalan had a stronger effect on total and classical monocyte concentrations for those patients who had received induction therapy including immunomodulatory drugs. Total monocytes and monocyte subset concentrations decreased during the period of pancytopenia, but monocyte reconstitution occurred before hematopoietic reconstitution. However, the fractions of various monocyte subsets varied considerably between patients.
Conclusions: The total level of circulating monocytes is normalized early after auto-transplantation for multiple myeloma, but pre- and post-transplant levels of various monocyte subsets show considerable variation between patients.
Keywords: Autologous stem cell transplantation; Monocytes; Multiple myeloma.