Multiple myeloma (MM), a malignancy of plasma cells, remains fatal despite introduction of novel therapies, partially due to humoral factors, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), in their microenvironment. The aim of this study was to explore the efficacy of anti-VEGF treatment with bevacizumab directly on MM cells. Particular attention was directed to the affect of VEGF inhibition on protein translation initiation. Experiments were conducted on MM cells (lines, bone marrow (BM) samples) cultured on plastic. Inhibition of VEGF was achieved with the clinically employed anti-VEGF antibody, bevacizumab, as a platform and its consequences on viability, proliferation, and survival was assessed. VEGF downstream signals of established importance to MM cell biology were assayed as well, with particular emphasis on translation initiation factor eIF4E. We showed that blocking VEGF is deleterious to the MM cells and causes cytostasis. This was evidenced in MM cell lines, as well as in primary BM samples (BM MM). A common bevacizumab-induced attenuation of critical signaling effectors was determined: VEGFR1, mTOR, c-Myc, Akt, STAT3, (cell lines) and eIF4E translation initiation factor (lines and BM). ERK1/2 displayed a variegated response to bevacizumab (lines). Utilizing a constitutively Akt-expressing MM model, we showed that the effect of bevacizumab on viability and eIF4E status is Akt-dependent. Of note, the effect of bevacizumab was achieved with high concentrations (2 mg/ml), but was shown to be specific. These findings demonstrate that bevacizumab has a direct influence on major pathways critically activated in MM that is independent from its established effect on angiogenesis. The cytostatic effect of VEGF inhibition on MM cells underscores its potential in combined therapy, and our findings, regarding its influence on translation initiation, suggest that drugs that unbalance cellular proteostasis may be particularly effective.
- multiple myeloma
- translation initiation