Purpose: Erythropoietin (EPO) and EPO receptor (EPO-R) expression have been reported in solid tumors and are claimed to regulate tumor growth; however, no data have been published on this issue in B-cell malignancies or normal lymphoid cells. This report describes genomic/protein EPO-R expression and in vitro effects of recombinant human EPO (epoetin) in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), mantle-cell lymphoma (MCL), and multiple myeloma (MM).
Experimental Design: Blood samples were obtained from patients with B-CLL, MCL, and healthy volunteers, and bone marrow was obtained from MM patients. EPO-R mRNA was detected by reverse transcription-PCR. EPO-R surface expression was investigated by flow cytometry using digoxigenin-labeled epoetin and polyclonal rabbit anti–EPO-R antibody for intracellular receptor. Tumor cell stimulation was determined in vitro using [3H]thymidine incorporation and CD69 expression after exposure to epoetin α or β or darbepoetin α.
Results: EPO-R mRNA was detected in mononuclear cells from 32 of 41 (78%) B-CLL and 5 of 7 (71%) MCL patients, and 21 of 21 (100%) MM samples. Expression was also detected in highly purified T cells from six of eight B-CLL patients, four of four MM patients, and normal donor B and T cells. Surface EPO-R protein was not detected. Intracellular EPO-R staining with anti–EPO-R antibodies was unspecific. No tumor-stimulatory effect was observed with high epoetin concentrations.
Conclusions:EPO-R gene is frequently expressed in lymphoid malignancies and normal B and T cells. However, there was no surface protein expression and no epoetin-induced in vitro stimulation of tumor B cells, indicating that epoetin therapy in vivo is likely to be safe in patients with lymphoid malignancies.
2007. Vol. 13, no 12, 3536-3544 p.