Stromal Cells Serve Drug Resistance for Multiple Myeloma via Mitochondrial Transfer: A Study on Primary Myeloma and Stromal Cells

Extracellular Vesicles

Recently, it has become evident that mitochondrial transfer (MT) plays a crucial role in the acquisition of cancer drug resistance in many hematologic malignancies; however, for multiple myeloma, there is a need to generate novel data to better understand this mechanism. Here, we show that primary myeloma cells (MMs) respond to an increasing concentration of chemotherapeutic drugs with an increase in the acquisition of mitochondria from autologous bone marrow stromal cells (BM-MSCs), whereupon survival and adenosine triphosphate levels of MMs increase, while the mitochondrial superoxide levels decrease in MMs. These changes are proportional to the amount of incorporated BM-MSC-derived mitochondria and to the concentration of the used drug, but seem independent from the type and mechanism of action of chemotherapeutics. In parallel, BM-MSCs also incorporate an increasing amount of MM cell-derived mitochondria accompanied by an elevation of superoxide levels. Using the therapeutic antibodies Daratumumab, Isatuximab, or Elotuzumab, no similar effect was observed regarding the MT. Our research shows that MT occurs via tunneling nanotubes and partial cell fusion with extreme increases under the influence of chemotherapeutic drugs, but its inhibition is limited. However, the supportive effect of stromal cells can be effectively avoided by influencing the metabolism of myeloma cells with the concomitant use of chemotherapeutic agents and an inhibitor of oxidative phosphorylation.

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