Multiple myeloma (MM) is characterized by the accumulation of malignant plasma cells in the bone marrow (BM). Recently, several studies have highlighted the role of pathogens in either promoting or dampening malignancies of unrelated origin. Trypanosoma brucei is an extracellular protozoan parasite which causes sleeping sickness. Our group has previously demonstrated that trypanosome infection affects effector plasma B cells. Therefore, we hypothesized that T. brucei infection could have an impact on MM development. Using the immunocompetent 5T33MM model, we demonstrated a significant reduction in BM-plasmacytosis and M-protein levels in mice infected with T. brucei, resulting in an increased survival of these mice. Blocking IFNγ could only partially abrogate these effects, suggesting that other mechanisms are involved in the destruction of malignant plasma cells. We found that T. brucei induces intrinsic apoptosis of 5T33MM cells in vivo, and that this was associated with reduced endogenous unfolded protein response (UPR) activation. Interestingly, pharmacological inhibition of IRE1α and PERK was sufficient to induce apoptosis in these cells. Together, these results demonstrate that trypanosome infections can interfere with MM development by suppressing endogenous UPR activation and promoting intrinsic apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4860
Pages (from-to)534-546
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • T. brucei, multiple myeloma

ID: 32433757