Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Cyclic AMP induces apoptosis in multiple myeloma cells and inhibits tumor development in a mouse myeloma model

Virginie Follin-Arbelet1*, Peter O Hofgaard2, Harald Hauglin3, Soheil Naderi1, Anders Sundan4, Rune Blomhoff3, Bjarne Bogen2 and Heidi K Blomhoff1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

2 Centre for Immune Regulation, Institute of Immunology, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway

3 Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

4 Department of Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, NTNU, Trondheim, Norway

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:301  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-301

Published: 18 July 2011



Multiple myeloma is an incurable disease requiring the development of effective therapies which can be used clinically. We have elucidated the potential for manipulating the cAMP signaling pathway as a target for inhibiting the growth of multiple myeloma cells.


As a model system, we primarily used the murine multiple myeloma cell line MOPC315 which can be grown both in vivo and in vitro. Human multiple myeloma cell lines U266, INA-6 and the B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell line Reh were used only for in vitro studies. Cell death was assessed by flow cytometry and western blot analysis after treatment with cAMP elevating agents (forskolin, prostaglandin E2 and rolipram) and cAMP analogs. We followed tumor growth in vivo after forskolin treatment by imaging DsRed-labelled MOPC315 cells transplanted subcutaneously in BALB/c nude mice.


In contrast to the effect on Reh cells, 50 μM forskolin more than tripled the death of MOPC315 cells after 24 h in vitro. Forskolin induced cell death to a similar extent in the human myeloma cell lines U266 and INA-6. cAMP-mediated cell death had all the typical hallmarks of apoptosis, including changes in the mitochondrial membrane potential and cleavage of caspase 3, caspase 9 and PARP. Forskolin also inhibited the growth of multiple myeloma cells in a mouse model in vivo.


Elevation of intracellular levels of cAMP kills multiple myeloma cells in vitro and inhibits development of multiple myeloma in vivo. This strongly suggests that compounds activating the cAMP signaling pathway may be useful in the field of multiple myeloma.