Short telomere length is associated with poor overall survival among patients with multiple myeloma (MM), according to a study published in the British Journal of Haematology.1

Survival outcomes of patients with MM is highly variable, despite modern treatment. The goal of this study was to determine if telomere length is a prognostic marker for overall survival among patients with MM.

Samples were obtained between 1990 and 2005 from 61 patients with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) and 134 patients with MM at diagnosis and prior to therapy initiation. Telomere length was measured using single high-resolution telomere length analysis at the XpYp telomere from bone marrow samples.

Continue Reading

Telomere length was significantly shorter in the MM cohort compared with the MGUS cohort (P = .017). There was no difference in telomere length between different International Staging System (ISS) scores.

In the MM cohort, median telomere length was a modest prognostic marker (hazard ratio [HR], 1.61; 95% CI, 1.04-2.53; P = .03), though telomere dysfunction threshold was highly associated with overall survival (HR, 3.42; 95% CI, 3.67-15.81; P < .0001).

Multivariate analysis demonstrated that ISS, followed by age and telomere length, were the most important prognostic factors for survival. Cytogenetics were not available in this population and were not part of the analysis.

RELATED: Meta-analysis Outlines Efficacy of Treatments for Relapsed/Refractory Multiple Myeloma

The data from this study suggest that telomere length may be a prognostic factor for survival among patients with MM. According to the authors, “a refinement of the risk classification could be obtained by incorporating telomere length assessment into the ISS for MM.”<.P>


  1. Hyatt S, Jones RE, Heppel NH, et al. Telomere length is a critical determinant for survival in multiple myeloma. Br J Haematol. 2017 Mar 24. doi: 10.1111/bjh.14643 [Epub ahead of print]