Myeloma is a malignant proliferation of monoclonal plasma cells. Although morphologically similar, several subtypes of the disease have been identified at the genetic and molecular level. These genetic subtypes are associated with unique clinicopathological features and dissimilar outcome. At the top hierarchical level, myeloma can be divided into hyperdiploid and non-hyperdiploid subtypes. The latter is mainly composed of cases harboring IgH translocations, generally associated with more aggressive clinical features and shorter survival. The three main IgH translocations in myeloma are the t(11;14)(q13;q32), t(4;14)(p16;q32) and t(14;16)(q32;q23). Trisomies and a more indolent form of the disease characterize hyperdiploid myeloma. A number of genetic progression factors have been identified including deletions of chromosomes 13 and 17 and abnormalities of chromosome 1 (1p deletion and 1q amplification). Other key drivers of cell survival and proliferation have also been identified such as nuclear factor-B-activating mutations and other deregulation factors for the cyclin-dependent pathways regulators. Further understanding of the biological subtypes of the disease has come from the application of novel techniques such as gene expression profiling and array-based comparative genomic hybridization. The combination of data arising from these studies and that previously elucidated through other mechanisms allows for most myeloma cases to be classified under one of several genetic subtypes. This paper proposes a framework for the classification of myeloma subtypes and provides recommendations for genetic testing. This group proposes that genetic testing needs to be incorporated into daily clinical practice and also as an essential component of all ongoing and future clinical trials.
- gene expression profiling
- multiple myeloma