The insulin-like growth factor system in multiple myeloma: diagnostic and therapeutic potential

Liesbeth Bieghs, Hans E. Johnsen, Ken Maes, Eline Menu, Els Van Valckenborgh, Michael T. Overgaard, Mette Nyegaard, Cheryl A. Conover, Karin Vanderkerken and Elke De Bruyne _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:48732-48752. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8982

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Liesbeth Bieghs1,2,3, Hans E. Johnsen2,4,5, Ken Maes1, Eline Menu1, Els Van Valckenborgh1, Michael T. Overgaard6, Mette Nyegaard3, Cheryl A. Conover7, Karin Vanderkerken1,* and Elke De Bruyne1,*

1 Department of Hematology and Immunology, Myeloma Center Brussels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium

2 Department of Hematology, Aalborg Hospital, Aalborg University, Denmark

3 Department of Biomedicin, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

4 Clinical Cancer Research Center, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark

5 Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Denmark

6 Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology, Aalborg University, Denmark

7 Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Nutrition, Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, NY, USA

* Equal senior authors

Correspondence to:

Elke De Bruyne, email:

Keywords: multiple myeloma, insulin-like growth factor, IGF-I targeting

Received: January 04, 2016 Accepted: April 16, 2016 Published: April 25, 2016


Multiple myeloma (MM) is a highly heterogeneous plasma cell malignancy. The MM cells reside in the bone marrow (BM), where reciprocal interactions with the BM niche foster MM cell survival, proliferation, and drug resistance. As in most cancers, the insulin-like growth factor (IGF) system has been demonstrated to play a key role in the pathogenesis of MM. The IGF system consists of IGF ligands, IGF receptors, IGF binding proteins (IGFBPs), and IGFBP proteases and contributes not only to the survival, proliferation, and homing of MM cells, but also MM-associated angiogenesis and osteolysis. Furthermore, increased IGF-I receptor (IGF-IR) expression on MM cells correlates with a poor prognosis in MM patients. Despite the prominent role of the IGF system in MM, strategies targeting the IGF-IR using blocking antibodies or small molecule inhibitors have failed to translate into the clinic. However, increasing preclinical evidence indicates that IGF-I is also involved in the development of drug resistance against current standard-of-care agents against MM, including proteasome inhibitors, immunomodulatory agents, and corticoids. IGF-IR targeting has been able to overcome or revert this drug resistance in animal models, enhancing the efficacy of standard-of-care agents. This finding has generated renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of IGF-I targeting in MM. The present review provides an update of the impact of the different IGF system components in MM and discusses the diagnostic and therapeutic potentials.

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