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1566 High Levels of Circulating Tumor Cells Are Associated with Increased Bone Marrow Proliferation in Newly Diagnosed Multiple Myeloma Patients

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 651. Multiple Myeloma and Plasma Cell Dyscrasias: Basic and Translational: Poster I
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Fundamental Science, Genomics, Adults, Translational Research, Bioinformatics, Plasma Cell Disorders, Diseases, Lymphoid Malignancies, Biological Processes, Genomic Profiling, Technology and Procedures, Study Population
Saturday, December 11, 2021, 5:30 PM-7:30 PM

Cathelijne Fokkema, MD1*, Madelon M.E. de Jong, MD1*, Sabrin Tahri, MD1*, Zoltan Kellermayer, MD, PhD1*, Chelsea den Hollander, BSc1*, Michael Vermeulen, BSc1*, Natalie Papazian1*, Mark van Duin, PhD1*, Michiel J.W. Wevers, MSc1*, Mathijs A. Sanders, PhD, MSc1*, Vincent H.J. van der Velden, PhD2*, Pieter Sonneveld, MD, PhD1, Annemiek Broyl1* and Tom Cupedo, PhD1*

1Department of Hematology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Rotterdam, Netherlands
2Department of Immunology, Laboratory Medical Immunology, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands


The introduction of new treatment regimens has significantly increased the progression free survival (PFS) of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma (MM) patients. However, even with these novel treatments, for some the disease remains refractory, highlighting the need to identify the pathobiology of high-risk MM. In MM patients, high levels of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) is associated with an inferior prognosis independent of high-risk cytogenetics (Chakraborty et al., 2016), suggesting that CTC numbers are a relevant reflection of tumor cell biology. We hypothesized that high levels of CTCs in MM patients are either the result of a transcriptionally distinct tumor clone with enhanced migration capacities, or driven by transcriptional differences present in the bone marrow (BM) tumor cells. To test these hypotheses, we 1) compared MM cells from paired blood and BM samples, and 2) compared BM tumor cells of patients with high and low CTC levels, using single cell RNA-sequencing.


We isolated plasma cell (PCs) from viably frozen mononuclear cells of paired peripheral blood (PB) and BM aspirates from five newly diagnosed MM patients (0.5%-8% CTCs) to determine the presence of a distinct CTC subclone. We generated single cell transcriptomes from 44,779 CTCs and 35,697 BM PCs. In the total 9 clusters common to BM PCs and CTCs were identified upon single cell data integration, but no cluster specific for either source was detected. Only 25 genes were significantly differential expressed between CTCs and BM PCs. The absence of transcriptional clusters unique to either CTCs or BM PCs, and the transcriptional similarity between these two anatomical sites makes it highly unlikely that CTC levels are driven by the presence of a transcriptionally-primed migratory clone.

We next set out to identify possible transcriptional differences in BM PCs from eight patients with high (2-22%) versus thirteen patients with low (0.004%-0.08%) percentages of CTCs. Recurrent high-risk mutations were present in both groups. Single cell transcriptomes were generated from 74,830 BM PCs. Single cell data integration across all patients led to the identification of 8 distinct PC clusters, one of which was characterized by enhanced proliferation as defined by STMN1 and MKI67 transcription. Interestingly, this proliferative cluster was increased in patients with a high percentage of CTCs. Furthermore, cell cycle analyses based on canonical G2M and S phase markers revealed that actively cycling PCs were more frequent in the BM of patients with a high percentage of CTCs (64% versus 30%, p<0.001), irrespective of the transcriptional cluster of origin. We hypothesized that plasma cell-extrinsic cues from the bone marrow micro-environment might be driving tumor proliferation.

In order to substantiate this, we isolated BM immune cells from the same 21 patients and generated a library of 301,045 single immune cell transcriptomes. This library contained all major immune cell subsets, including CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, NK cells, B cells and monocytes. Comparative analyses of these cell populations in patients with either high or low levels of CTC are ongoing.


Through single cell transcriptomic analyses, we demonstrate that CTCs and BM PCs are transcriptionally similar. Importantly, we identify increased BM PC proliferation as a significant difference between patients with high and low levels of CTCs, implicating an increased tumor proliferation as one of the potential mechanisms driving CTC levels and MM disease pathobiology. The relation of the BM immune micro-environment to this altered proliferative state is currently under investigation.

Disclosures: van der Velden: Janssen: Other: Service Level Agreement; BD Biosciences: Other: Service Level Agreement; Navigate: Other: Service Level Agreement; Agilent: Research Funding; EuroFlow: Other: Service Level Agreement, Patents & Royalties: for network, not personally. Sonneveld: SkylineDx: Honoraria, Research Funding; Karyopharm: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Amgen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Celgene/BMS: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Janssen: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding; Takeda: Consultancy, Honoraria, Research Funding. Broyl: Sanofi: Honoraria; Janssen Pharmaceuticals: Honoraria; Celgene: Honoraria; Bristol-Meyer Squibb: Honoraria; Amgen: Honoraria.

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