Multiple Myeloma Pathophysiology

Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that affects bone marrow, the spongy soft tissue that lies within the hollow centre of some bones.

The bone marrow contains stem cells that produce three types of blood cell: the red blood cells that transport oxygen around the body; the white blood cells involved in fighting infection; and platelets which are essential for blood clotting and healing processes.

One form of differentiated B lymphocytes called the plasma cell is responsible for secreting large proportions of antibodies against invading bodies. In multiple myeloma, however, the plasma cells produced are abnormal and these are refereed to as myeloma cells.

These myeloma cells produce large amounts of an abnormal antibody (immunoglobulin) called paraprotein or M protein that is not effective at fighting infection and also interferes with the production of normal immunoglobulins.

Cause of multiple myeloma

The underlying cause of this disease process is still not clear among experts, although progress has been made in understanding the DNA changes that can cause plasma cells to become cancerous.

Some sections of our DNA (genes) are responsible for controlling the growth, division and death of cells. If these genes become altered or mutated, disordered cell regulation may lead to an abnormal, uncontrolled proliferation of cells which can cause cancer.

Myeloma cells have been found to have parts of chromosome 13 missing. These missing parts are called deletions and they appear to be linked to a myeloma that is more aggressive and resistant to treatment.

In around 50% of people with myeloma, the chromosomal change appears to be a translocation mutation, where one part of the chromosome in myeloma cells has become switched with part of another chromosome.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2019, February 27). Multiple Myeloma Pathophysiology. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 27, 2022 from

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Multiple Myeloma Pathophysiology". News-Medical. 27 May 2022. <>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Multiple Myeloma Pathophysiology". News-Medical. (accessed May 27, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2019. Multiple Myeloma Pathophysiology. News-Medical, viewed 27 May 2022,


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Study shows vaccinated multiple myeloma patients at greater risk of breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections