Constitutive activation of p38 MAPK in tumor cells contributes to osteolytic bone lesions in multiple myeloma

J. Yang, J. He, J. Wang, Y. Cao, J. Ling, J. Qian, Y. Lu, H. Li, Y. Zheng, Y. Lan, S. Hong, J. Matthews, M. W. Starbuck, N. M. Navone, R. Z. Orlowski, P. Lin, L. W. Kwak, Q. Yi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Bone destruction is a hallmark of multiple myeloma and affects more than 80% of patients. However, current therapy is unable to completely cure and/or prevent bone lesions. Although it is accepted that myeloma cells mediate bone destruction by inhibition of osteoblasts and activation of osteoclasts, the underlying mechanism is still poorly understood. This study demonstrates that constitutive activation of p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase in myeloma cells is responsible for myeloma-induced osteolysis. Our results show that p38 is constitutively activated in most myeloma cell lines and primary myeloma cells from patients. Myeloma cells with high/detectable p38 activity, but not those with low/undetectable p38 activity, injected into severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) or SCID-hu mice caused bone destruction. Inhibition or knockdown of p38 in human myeloma reduced or prevented myeloma-induced osteolytic bone lesions without affecting tumor growth, survival, or homing to bone. Mechanistic studies showed that myeloma cell p38 activity inhibited osteoblastogenesis and bone formation and activated osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption in myeloma-bearing SCID mice. This study elucidates a novel molecular mechanismactivation of p38 signaling in myeloma cellsby which myeloma cells induce osteolytic bone lesions, and indicates that targeting myeloma cell p38 may be a viable approach to treating or preventing myeloma bone disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2114-2123
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Myeloma
  • osteoblastogenesis
  • osteoclastogenesis
  • osteolytic bone lesions
  • p38 MAPK

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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