In multiple myeloma, clonotypic B lymphocytes are detectable among CD19+ peripheral blood cells expressing CD38, CD56, and monotypic Ig light chain

P. Leif Bergsagel, Anna Masellis Smith, Agnieszka Szczepek, Michael J. Mant, Andrew R. Belch, Linda M. Pilarski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

158 Scopus citations


Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by a plasma cell infiltrate of the bone marrow (BM). However, late-stage monotypic B cells have been detected in the blood. This work analyzes the effects of clinical treatment on late stage CD19+ B cells present in 752 blood samples from 152 MM patients. MM patients have 2 to 8 times as many circulating CD19+ cells as do normal donors. Analysis of the Ig heavy chain (IgH) gene rearrangements using polymerase chain reaction indicates that the CD19+ population includes cells sharing the same clonotypic CDR3 region as is detected in the BM plasma cells, for patients analyzed during chemotherapy or in relapse. They are also monotypic as defined by their cytoplasmic or surface expression of Igκ or λ light chain. The light chain restriction is the same as that of the BM plasma cells. Individual patients observed over 1- to 2-year periods exhibit considerable variation in the number of B cells present in blood; this number does not correlate with the concentration of serum monoclonal Ig. The monoclonal blood CD19+ cells are not eliminated by any of the chemotherapy regimens analyzed and remain at high levels during transient remissions. Patients in the progressive phase of disease or in relapse have significantly higher numbers of B cells than do patients in transient remission or untreated patients. During periods when the quantity of blood B cells approaches normal, phenotypically their quality is highly abnormal, with physical and phenotypic heterogeneity. Most B cells express CD45R0, a high density of CD38, and CD56 characteristic of late-stage B or pre-plasma cells. CD38(hi) blood B cells had a cyclical presence. We conclude that monoclonal B cells in the blood of myeloma patient populations include drug-resistant reservoirs of clonotypic cells that may underlie relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-447
Number of pages12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Immunology
  • Hematology
  • Cell Biology


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