Bone destruction is a hallmark of myeloma, with 70% to 80% of patients manifesting bone involvement. Destruction is mediated through normal osteoclasts (OCLs), which respond to local osteoclast-activating factors (OAFs) produced by myeloma cells or by other cells in the local microenvironment. OAFs implicated in myeloma bone disease include tumor necrosis factor-beta (TNFβ), RANK ligand (RANKL), interleukin-1 (IL-1), parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), hepatocyte growth factor (HGH), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), and macrophage inflammatory protein-1-alpha (MIP-1α). To date, the leading candidates for OAFs are MIP-1α and RANKL. Adhesive interactions between marrow stromal cells and myeloma cells induce marrow stromal cells to secrete IL-6, a potent myeloma growth/survival factor that may contribute to the bone disease. Evaluation of myeloma bone disease includes plain radiographs, and newer methods, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans, technetium-99m-sestamibi (Mibi) scanning, and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scanning, may provide more complete information. In addition, biochemical markers of bone resorption are being evaluated, although the limited availability of these assays and lack of extensive testing in patients make their routine use premature. Treatment of myeloma bone disease includes radiation therapy, vertebroplasty, surgery, and bisphosphonates. New developments on the pathogenesis and treatment of myeloma bone disease present great opportunities to combat bone disease.
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