Increased circulating plasma cells detected by flow cytometry predicts poor prognosis in patients with plasma cell myeloma

Mi Hyun Bae, Chan Jeoung Park, Bo Hyun Kim, Young Uk Cho, Seongsoo Jang, Dong Hyun Lee, Eul Ju Seo, Dok Hyun Yoon, Jung Hee Lee, Cheolwon Suh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Flow cytometry (FC) is a reliable tool for diagnosing and monitoring of plasma cell myeloma (PCM). Recent studies used FC for quantifying plasma cells (PCs) in peripheral blood (PB) using various panels, and an adverse prognostic effect of circulating PCs (cPCs) has been reported. We investigated the prognostic implication of cPCs quantified using a simple panel in patients with PCM. Methods: Bone marrow (BM) and PB of 85 patients with PCM were analyzed by five-color FC at time of diagnosis. A serial gating strategy for quantification used CD38/CD138 to gate PCs in 100,000–200,000 acquired events, with subsequent gating for CD19, CD56, and CD45, to identify aberrant immunophenotypes. Results: cPCs were observed in 74.1% patients (63/85, median 0.067% leukocytes). Patients were grouped based on a cPC cut-off level of 0.02% derived using the receiver operating characteristic curves. Compared with patients with cPCs < 0.02% (n = 28), those with cPCs ≥ 0.02% (n = 57) showed lower hemoglobin (P = 0.003) and platelets (P = 0.014), but higher calcium, M-protein and BM PCs (P = 0.013, 0.029, and P < 0.001, respectively). Survival analysis of 74 patients showed that cPCs ≥ 0.02% predicted shorter progression-free and overall survival (P = 0.001 and 0.013, respectively), and this negative prognostic impact was retained in multivariate analysis (P = 0.023). Conclusions: Flow cytometric quantification of cPCs using five surface antigens (CD138, CD38, CD56, CD19, and CD45) is a sensitive and simple method that can be used for assessing PCM prognosis; it would allow clinical laboratories to readily adopt a risk stratification strategy based on cPC levels in PCM patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)493-499
Number of pages7
JournalCytometry Part B - Clinical Cytometry
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
4. Rawstron AC, Child JA, de Tute RM, Davies FE, Gregory WM, Bell SE, Szubert AJ, Navarro-Coy N, Drayson MT, Feyler S, Ross FM, Cook G, Jackson GH, Morgan GJ, Owen RG, et al.. Minimal residual disease assessed by multiparameter flow cytometry in multiple mye-loma: Impact on outcome in the Medical Research Council Myeloma IX Study. J Clin Oncol 2013;31:2540–2547.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 International Clinical Cytometry Society


  • circulating plasma cells
  • flow cytometry
  • plasma cell myeloma
  • prognosis


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