Growth and dormancy control of myeloma cells by mesenchymal stem cells

Leuk Res. 2023 Oct:133:107355. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2023.107355. Epub 2023 Jul 14.


Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may have contrasting impacts on the progression of multiple myeloma (MM). Priming normal MSCs, by culturing them with MM cells, mimics the MSC-induced MM growth. We studied the contrasting effects of conditioned medium (CM) from unprimed or primed MSCs on growth of MM cells from newly diagnosed cases. We elucidated potential molecular pathways using global gene expression profiling and focused on the role of the mTOR2 component, RICTOR, as a novel mediator of dormancy in MM. Primed MSCs CM consistently increased proportions of proliferating cells and supported MM growth in 3-day (n = 20) and 10-day (n = 12) cultures, effects that were partially mediated through the IGF1 axis. In contrast, unprimed MSCs CM inhibited growth of MM cells in cases mainly from stages I/II MM. The genes most overexpressed in MM cells treated with primed MSCs CM were associated with cell cycle, DNA-damage repair, and proliferation; genes most overexpressed in MM cells treated with unprimed MSCs CM were associated with dormancy pathways including RICTOR (mTOR2 pathway), CXCR4, and BCL2. RICTOR protein level was induced by unprimed MSCs CM and was lower in KI67+ proliferating MM cells treated with primed MSCs CM. RICTOR was underexpressed in clinical relapse samples compared with baseline samples of the same patients. Inhibiting RICTOR expression in primary MM cells promoted their growth, and enforced expression of RICTOR in MM cell lines inhibited their growth. Our findings suggest that, after prolonged interactions with MM cells, bone marrow MSCs shift from MM-repressive to MM-permissive. AVAILABILITY OF DATA AND MATERIALS: Our institutional GEP data of MM cells from newly diagnosed patients used to show RICTOR expression have been deposited at Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO: GSE2658,

Keywords: Dormancy; MTOR2; Mesenchymal stem cells; Microenvironment; Myeloma; RICTOR.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Proliferation
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells* / metabolism
  • Multiple Myeloma* / genetics
  • Multiple Myeloma* / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Transcription Factors