Journal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology

, Volume 138, Issue 11, pp 1821–1830 | Cite as

Induction of indoleamine-2,3 dioxygenase in bone marrow stromal cells inhibits myeloma cell growth

  • Sabine Pfeifer
  • Martin Schreder
  • Arnold Bolomsky
  • Sebastian Graffi
  • Dietmar Fuchs
  • Surinder S. Sahota
  • Heinz Ludwig
  • Niklas ZojerEmail author
Original Paper



Indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) is a tryptophan-catabolizing enzyme with immunoregulatory properties in cancer. By focusing on multiple myeloma cells and its microenvironment as potential sources of IDO, we aimed to delineate its influence on myeloma cell growth and survival and examine effector mechanisms.


IDO expression was assessed in myeloma cells and in a coculture system with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), including prior cytokine priming to induce IDO in MSCs. IDO expression was correlated with induction of apoptosis in myeloma cells and coupled with tryptophan depletion as well as rescue using IDO inhibitors.


We report low levels of expression of IDO in myeloma cell lines (MMCLs) and primary myeloma cells (MMCs), despite priming with interferon-γ (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), or hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). In MSCs, however, IDO could be functionally induced by IFN-γ, mediating apoptosis in myeloma cells following coculture. Addition of IDO-specific inhibitors, as well as addition of tryptophan, was shown to abrogate these effects.


IDO is expressed in primary MMCs to a low degree and is unlikely to play a direct major role in vivo in dampening antitumor immunity. However, cytokine stimulation of MSCs specifically induced IDO, which mediated a marked sensitivity of proximal myeloma cells to tryptophan depletion in the microenvironment, suggesting that selective measures to regulate its availability could be a useful strategy to achieve myeloma growth inhibition and apoptosis.


Indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase Mesenchymal stromal cells Interferon-γ Myeloma tumor–niche Immunosuppression 



This work was supported by the European Community’s Sixth Framework Programme by a grant to the Myeloma Stem Cell Network (MSCNET/FP6; contract number 037602) and by the Austrian Forum against Cancer. SSS was funded by the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, UK. The authors wish to thank Elsa Thagian and Michaela Rathberger for excellent technical assistance.

Conflict of interest

We declare that none of the authors have any conflict of interest to declare in relation to this study.

Supplementary material

432_2012_1259_MOESM1_ESM.eps (66 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (EPS 66 kb)
432_2012_1259_MOESM2_ESM.eps (71 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (EPS 71 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Pfeifer
    • 1
  • Martin Schreder
    • 1
  • Arnold Bolomsky
    • 1
  • Sebastian Graffi
    • 1
  • Dietmar Fuchs
    • 2
  • Surinder S. Sahota
    • 3
  • Heinz Ludwig
    • 1
  • Niklas Zojer
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.First Department of MedicineCenter for Oncology and Hematology, WilhelminenspitalViennaAustria
  2. 2.Division of Biological Chemistry, BiocenterMedical University of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  3. 3.Tumour Immunogenetics Group, Cancer Sciences DivisionSchool of Medicine, University of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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