Bone marrow plasma cell proliferative activity has been evaluated in a large series of multiple myeloma (MM) patients. This kinetic parameter has been shown to be a useful tool for patient management, and contributes to a correct diagnosis and a selection of high-risk patients who can be offered high-dose chemotherapy. The role of ras oncogenes has been evaluated in the pathogenesis of MM. A point-mutated and activated H-ras oncogene, introduced in a human lymphoblastoid cell line, was able to induce neoplastic transformation and differentiation to plasma cell. Indeed, mutated alleles of ras genes have been detected in a high percentage of myeloma patients in relapse phase. Phenotypical and functional studies have been carried out in T-lymphocyte subsets and an impaired cellular immunity has been detected. Such an impairment was related to the disease status: marked alterations were detected in relapse phase, whereas a partial recovery was observed during remission phase.
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