Obesity is a risk factor for the development of MM, although the mechanisms that link obesity and MM are unclear. Obesity, in turn, is closely associated with obstructive sleep apnea. Interestingly, the key risk factors for both sleep apnea and MM are overlapping (age, sex, race and body mass index). During the apnea, or cessation of normal breathing, arterial oxygen saturation falls. This can occur as often as 60 times per hour, resulting in chronic intermittent hypoxia (CIH). In preliminary studies, investigators exposed C57BL/6 mice, that are typically resistant to engraftment of malignant plasma cells to CIH, followed by injection of malignant 5TGM1 cells. With CIH, 5TGM1 cells homed to bone marrow, and engrafted and expanded, resulting in lethal disease. These mice had key features of the myeloma phenotype, including bone damage and gammopathy. Investigators explored potential mechanisms by which CIH promote MM progression by performing whole bone marrow RNASeq analysis. They found pathways relevant to angiogenesis, cell adhesion, and stromal cell development (including dendritic cells and eosinophils) to be upregulated. This is an exciting and potentially translational finding because these elements are also upregulated in the bone marrow of human myeloma patients. Investigators also found upregulation of B cell and plasma cell development and differentiation pathway, and downregulation of B-cell apoptosis pathways. Taking these preliminary findings together, the overarching hypothesis is that CIH increases oxidative stress, thereby supporting B cell maturation and changing the bone marrow stromal microenvironment to drive the progression to MM.
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