Single-cell analysis of the CD8+ T-cell compartment in multiple myeloma reveals disease specific changes are chiefly restricted to a CD69- subset suggesting potent cytotoxic effectors exist within the tumor bed

Haematologica. 2024 Apr 1;109(4):1220-1232. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2023.283062.


Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable disease of the bone marrow (BM) characterized by the uncontrolled proliferation of neoplastic plasma cells. While CD8+ T cells have an established role in disease control, few studies have focused on these cells within the MM tumor microenvironment (TME). We analyzed CD8+ T cells in the BM and peripheral blood (PB) of untreated patients with MM and non-myeloma controls using flow cytometry, mass cytometry and single-cell RNA sequencing, using several novel bioinformatics workflows. Inter-tissue differences were most evident in the differential expression of Granzymes B and K, which were strongly associated with two distinct subsets of CD8+ T cells delineated by the expression of CD69, accounting for roughly 50% of BM-CD8+ T cells of all assessed cohorts. While few differences were observable between health and disease in the BM-restricted CD8CD69+ T-cell subset, the CD8+CD69- T-cell subset in the BM of untreated MM patients demonstrated increased representation of highly differentiated effector cells and evident compositional parallels between the PB, absent in age-matched controls, where a marked reduction of effector cells was observed. We demonstrate the transcriptional signature of BM-CD8+ T cells from patients with MM more closely resembles TCR-activated CD8+ T cells from age-matched controls than their resting counterparts.

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Multiple Myeloma* / pathology
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • T-Lymphocyte Subsets / pathology
  • Tumor Microenvironment

Grants and funding

Funding: This work is funded by a Brian D. Novis research grant from the International Myeloma Foundation (to CEB) and Sydney Blood Cancer Research.