Can Targeting Hypoxia-Mediated Acidification of the Bone Marrow Microenvironment Kill Myeloma Tumor Cells?

Front Oncol. 2021 Jul 19;11:703878. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2021.703878. eCollection 2021.


Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable cancer arising from malignant plasma cells that engraft in the bone marrow (BM). The physiology of these cancer cells within the BM microenvironment (TME) plays a critical role in MM development. These processes may be similar to what has been observed in the TME of other (non-hematological) solid tumors. It has been long reported that within the BM, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), increased angiogenesis and microvessel density, and activation of hypoxia-induced transcription factors (HIF) are correlated with MM progression but despite a great deal of effort and some modest preclinical success the overall clinical efficacy of using anti-angiogenic and hypoxia-targeting strategies, has been limited. This review will explore the hypothesis that the TME of MM engrafted in the BM is distinctly different from non-hematological-derived solid tumors calling into question how effective these strategies may be against MM. We further identify other hypoxia-mediated effectors, such as hypoxia-mediated acidification of the TME, oxygen-dependent metabolic changes, and the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), that may prove to be more effective targets against MM.

Keywords: acid base regulation; bone marrow microenvironment; hypoxia and apoptosis; multiple myeloma; pH balance.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review