99mTc-sestamibi imaging and bone marrow karyotyping in the assessment of multiple myeloma and MGUS

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The first pathogenetic step in multiple myeloma is the emergence of a limited number of clonal plasma cells, clinically known as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS). Patients with MGUS do not have symptoms or end-organ damage but they do have a 1% annual risk of progression to multiple myeloma or related malignant disorders. With progression of MGUS to multiple myeloma, complex genetic events occur in the neoplastic plasma cell. Karyotyping and fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) were shown to be of prognostic value in patients with multiple myeloma. 99mTc-sestamibi imaging reflects myeloma disease activity in bone marrow with very high sensitivity and specificity predicting disease evolution. This study was undertaken to evaluate the role of 99mTc-sestamibi imaging and cytogenetic analysis in prognosis prediction of MGUS and multiple myeloma.


We enrolled 30 consecutive patients with a confirmed diagnosis of multiple myeloma or MGUS. Bone marrow biopsy and biochemical staging according to the International Staging System (ISS) were performed in all cases. Karyotype analysis and FISH were performed in 11 of 12 patients with MGUS and in 17 of 18 patients with multiple myeloma having adequate metaphases.


The karyotype was abnormal in four of 11 MGUS and in six of 17 multiple myeloma. Abnormalities of chromosome 13 were present in one case of MGUS and in six cases of multiple myeloma whereas the involvement of immunoglobulin was observed in one case of multiple myeloma. An abnormal FISH panel was found in four MGUS and nine multiple myeloma patients. All patients with MGUS showed a normal MIBI scan (score 0). Among patients with multiple myeloma only three, all with ISS stage I, showed a normal scan while a positive scan was obtained in others (score range, 1–7). The MIBI uptake was strongly related to the bone marrow plasma cell infiltration and to cytogenetic abnormalities. Particularly, a MIBI uptake score above 5 identified patients with poor prognosis encompassing all stage III multiple myeloma and three of seven stage II multiple myeloma. On the other hand all stage I and II patients having a MIBI score less than 5 showed a good prognosis.


Both cytogenetic analysis and a MIBI scan add no relevant prognostic information to the ISS in patients with stage I and III multiple myeloma. The MIBI scan was of prognostic value in stage II multiple myeloma patients. Additionally, MIBI imaging may be useful to guide bone marrow biopsy in order to obtain adequate samples for cytogenetic analysis.

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