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Targeting CD38-Expressing Multiple Myeloma and Burkitt Lymphoma Cells In Vitro with Nanobody-Based Chimeric Antigen Receptors (Nb-CARs)
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Controversy in the Use of CD38 Antibody for Treatment of Myeloma: Is High CD38 Expression Good or Bad?

Vejle Hospital and University of Southern Denmark, 7100 Vejle, Denmark
Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Department of Hematology, Cancer Center Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Jerome Lipper Myeloma Center, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Cells 2020, 9(2), 378;
Received: 15 January 2020 / Revised: 4 February 2020 / Accepted: 5 February 2020 / Published: 6 February 2020
During a time span of just a few years, the CD38 antibody, daratumumab, has been established as one of the most important new drugs for the treatment of multiple myeloma, both in the relapsed/refractory setting and, more recently, as a first-line treatment. Although much is known about the pleiotropic modes of action of daratumumab, we are still not sure how to use it in an optimal manner. Daratumumab targets CD38 on myeloma cells and a high level of CD38 expression facilitates complement-mediated cytotoxicity (CDC), antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) and antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP). Since the expression of CD38 by myeloma cells is downregulated during treatment with daratumumab, it may seem reasonable to introduce a wash-out period and retreat with daratumumab at a later time point when CD38 expression has recovered in order to gain the maximum benefit of daratumumab’s capacity to kill myeloma cells by CDC, ADCC and ADCP. In other aspects, CD38 seems to serve as a survival factor for myeloma cells by facilitating protective myeloma cell–stromal-cell interactions, contributing to the formation of nanotubes that transfer mitochondria from the stromal cells to myeloma cells, boosting myeloma cell proliferation and survival and by generation of immunosuppressive adenosine in the bone marrow microenvironment. In addition, continuous exposure to daratumumab may keep immune suppressor cells at a low level, which boosts the anti-tumor activity of T-cells. In fact, one may speculate if in the early phase of treatment of a myeloma patient, the debulking effects of daratumumab achieved by CDC, ADCC and ADCP are more important while at a later stage, reprogramming of the patient’s own immune system and certain metabolic effects may take over and become more essential. This duality may be reflected by what we often observe when we watch the slope of the M-protein from myeloma patients responding to daratumumab: A rapid initial drop followed by a slow decline of the M-protein during several months or even years. Ongoing and future clinical trials will teach us how to use daratumumab in an optimal way.
Keywords: CD38; multiple myeloma; daratumumab; antibody; immunotherapy CD38; multiple myeloma; daratumumab; antibody; immunotherapy
MDPI and ACS Style

Plesner, T.; van de Donk, N.; Richardson, P.G. Controversy in the Use of CD38 Antibody for Treatment of Myeloma: Is High CD38 Expression Good or Bad? Cells 2020, 9, 378.

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