Overexpression of c-Myc is required for the progression of pre-malignant plasma cells in monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) to malignant plasma cells in multiple myeloma (MM). c-Myc also increases glutamine anaplerosis into the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle within cancer cells. Whether increased glutamine anaplerosis is associated with the progression of pre-malignant to malignant plasma cells is unknown.
Human volunteers (N = 7) and patients with MGUS (N = 11) and MM (N = 12) were prospectively recruited to undergo an intravenous infusion of 13C-labelled glutamine followed by a bone marrow aspiration to obtain bone marrow cells and plasma.
Despite notable heterogeneity, stable isotope resolved metabolomics (SIRM) revealed that the mean 13C-labelled glutamine anaplerosis into the TCA cycle was higher in malignant compared to pre-malignant bone marrow plasma cells relative to the remainder of their paired bone marrow mononuclear cells. RNA sequencing demonstrated a higher relative mRNA expression of c-Myc and glutamine transporters such as ASCT2 and SN2 in malignant compared to pre-malignant bone marrow plasma cells. Finally, higher quantitative levels of TCA cycle intermediates in the bone marrow plasma differentiated MM from MGUS patients.
Measurement of the in vivo activity of glutamine anaplerosis into the TCA cycle provides novel insight into the metabolic changes associated with the transformation of pre-malignant plasma cells in MGUS to malignant plasma cells in MM.