Multiple myeloma derived mitochondrial damps induce inflammation in the bone marrow adipose tissue which promotes tumour development

Aisha Jibril, Charlotte Hellmich, Jamie A. Moore, Jayna Mistry, Stuart Rushworth, Kristian Bowles, Victoria Willimott

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


Multiple myeloma (MM) is a malignancy of the antibody secreting plasma cells, characterized by the localisation and accumulation of tumour cells in the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) belongs to a group of mitochondrial damage associated molecular patterns (mtDAMPs) and contains islands of unmethylated CpG nucleotide motifs, which have been shown to activate and promote memory B cell antibody secretion and proliferation. Studies have indicated that mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is elevated in the circulation of trauma and cancer patients, highlighting a need to explore the functional purpose of mtDNA in the BM microenvironment. Moreover, myeloma relies on the BM microenvironment for survival, proliferation and drug resistance. BM adipocytes are highly secretory cells that support myeloma cells through the release of various factors. It has been shown that myeloma cells induce a shift from osteoblast progenitors towards adipogenesis. Here, we hypothesise that MM cells release mtDAMPs that leads to the promotion of a state of chronic inflammation that supports multiple myeloma disease progression and expansion by inducing adipocyte inflammation.

First, we engrafted immunocompromised NSG mice with human myeloma cell line MM1S, blood serum samples were taken and analysed by RT-qPCR to detect the presence of human mtDNA. We found elevated levels of human mtDNA in the serum of engrafted mice correlating to disease progression. Next, we showed that mtDNA was higher in serum patients with MM compared to healthy controls, moreover, we discovered that BM serum from MM patients had significantly higher levels of mtDNA than blood serum. Furthermore, this observation was recapitulated in myeloma engrafted NSG mice. Next, we examined the effect of mtDNA on various cell populations of the BM. We found that in vitro both BM derived macrophages and BM derived adipocytes had increased inflammatory signatures, including upregulation of IL-6, when treated with mtDNA from myeloma cells. MtDNA induced IL-6 expression was attenuated upon blocking of the TLR9 receptor with antagonist ODN 2088. To understand the role of BM adipocyte induced inflammation in MM, we treated adipocytes with mtDNA before culturing them with MM. We found that MM cells had enhanced proliferation on mtDNA activated adipocytes. We further show that MM cells cultured with mtDNA activated adipocytes have increased uptake of free fatty acids and seahorse analysis confirmed an increase in b-oxidation derived metabolism.

Here we establish that MM releases mtDNA into the microenvironment promoting the disease progression via a pro-inflammatory BM. We also show that both BM macrophages and BM adipocytes play a supportive role in multiple myeloma expansion and contribute to the pro-inflammatory bone marrow microenvironment.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2021

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