Multiple myeloma patients in long-term complete response after autologous stem cell transplantation express a particular immune signature with potential prognostic implication

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The proportion of multiple myeloma patients in long-term complete response (LTCR-MM) for more than 6 years after autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) is small. To evaluate whether this LTCR is associated with a particular immune signature, peripheral blood samples from 13 LTCR-MM after ASCT and healthy blood donors (HBD) were analysed. Subpopulations of T-cells (naïve, effector, central memory and regulatory), B-cells (naïve, marginal zone-like, class-switched memory, transitional and plasmablasts) and NK-cells expressing inhibitory and activating receptors were quantified by multiparametric flow cytometry (MFC). Heavy/light chains (HLC) were quantified by nephelometry. The percentage of CD4+ T-cells was lower in patients, whereas an increment in the percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ effector memory T-cells was associated with the LTCR. Regulatory T-cells and NK-cells were similar in both groups but a particular redistribution of inhibitory and activating receptors in NK-cells were found in patients. Regarding B-cells, an increase in naïve cells and a corresponding reduction in marginal zone-like and class-switched memory B-cells was observed. The HLC values were normal. Our results suggest that LTCR-MM patients express a particular immune signature, which probably reflects a ‘high quality' immune reconstitution that could exert a competent anti-tumor immunological surveillance along with a recovery of the humoral immunity.

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