Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

High-dose melphalan (HDM) improves progression-free survival in multiple myeloma (MM), yet melphalan is a DNA-damaging alkylating agent; therefore, we assessed its mutational effect on surviving myeloma cells by analyzing paired MM samples collected at diagnosis and relapse in the IFM 2009 study. We performed deep whole-genome sequencing on samples from 68 patients, 43 of whom were treated with RVD (lenalidomide, bortezomib, and dexamethasone) and 25 with RVD + HDM. Although the number of mutations was similar at diagnosis in both groups (7137 vs 7230; P = .67), the HDM group had significantly more mutations at relapse (9242 vs 13 383, P = .005). No change in the frequency of copy number alterations or structural variants was observed. The newly acquired mutations were typically associated with DNA damage and double-stranded breaks and were predominantly on the transcribed strand. A machine learning model, using this unique pattern, predicted patients who would receive HDM with high sensitivity, specificity, and positive prediction value. Clonal evolution analysis showed that all patients treated with HDM had clonal selection, whereas a static progression was observed with RVD. A significantly higher percentage of mutations were subclonal in the HDM cohort. Intriguingly, patients treated with HDM who achieved complete remission (CR) had significantly more mutations at relapse yet had similar survival rates as those treated with RVD who achieved CR. This similarity could have been due to HDM relapse samples having significantly more neoantigens. Overall, our study identifies increased genomic changes associated with HDM and provides rationale to further understand clonal complexity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1724 - 1736


Humans, Multiple Myeloma, Melphalan, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Bortezomib, Lenalidomide, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Chronic Disease, Transplantation, Autologous, Dexamethasone