The molecular pathogenesis of multiple myeloma
Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by uncontrolled proliferation and accumulation of clonal plasma cells within the bone marrow. However, the cell of origin is a B-lymphocyte acquiring aberrant genomic events in the germinal center of a lymph node as off-target events during somatic-hypermutation and class-switch recombination driven by activation-induced-deaminase. Whether pre-germinal center events are also required for transformation, and which additional events are required for disease progression is still matter of debate. As early treatment in asymptomatic phases is gaining traction in the clinic, a better understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of myeloma progression would allow stratification of patients based on their risk of progression, thus rationalizing efficacy and cost of clinical interventions. In this review, we will discuss the development of MM, from the cell of origin through asymptomatic stages such as monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance and smoldering MM, to the development of symptomatic disease. We will explain the genetic heterogeneity of MM, one of the major drivers of disease recurrence. In this context, Moreover, we will propose how this knowledge may influence future diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.
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