How Does Multiple Myeloma Start?
Multiple Myeloma is a type of malignancy which develops in the plasma cells, a type of WBCs in our blood. These malignant cells grow in the bone marrow, forming clusters and replacing the healthy blood cells. Instead of producing the antibodies, these malignant plasma cells start producing unusual proteins that are harmful for our body. To know more about as to how the multiple myeloma starts and grows, we need to know more about the plasma cells and their functions in our body.
What Are Plasma Cells?
Multiple Myeloma occurs when the plasma cells begin to grow abnormally and start accumulating in the bone marrow in the form of clusters. The plasma cells are an important part of our immune system along with several other types of white blood cells. Together they form the entire immune system and work against infections and diseases. The white blood cells which form the immune system mainly include lymphocytes which are found in many points like the lymph nodes, the intestine, and the bone marrow and in the entire systemic flow. T-cells and B-cells are a type of lymphocytes which are mainly responsible for immunity.
Whenever there is an infection in the body, the B-cells response to that infection and they mature into plasma cells. These plasma cells are responsible for producing the antibodies against the infection. These antibodies are also known as immunoglobulin’s which helps the body in fighting with the infections and germs. The plasma cells are found inside the soft tissue inside the bones known as the bone marrow. This bone marrow is also the home for RBCs, all other types of WBCs and platelets.
Generally the plasma cells produce immunoglobulin’s but in case of multiple myeloma, the plasma cells start producing abnormal proteins or antibodies which are known by various names such as monoclonal immunoglobulin, M-spike, monoclonal protein or M-protein and Para-protein. Although there are many other disorders in which the plasma cells produce abnormal protein but they are not the cases of multiple myeloma. This malignancy shows some specific symptoms which differentiate the other plasma cells’ disorders from multiple myeloma.(1)
These symptoms include:
Reduction In Other Blood Cells
- Because the number of plasma cells growth takes place abnormally the growth of other blood cells are suppressed, hence their number decreases considerably.
- The reduction of RBCs cause anemia. It is characterized by weakness and fatigue.
- There is also a reduction in the platelets due to multiple myeloma. The platelets are mainly responsible for blood coagulation after an injury, so there reduction leads to increased bleeding time and prolonged bruising.
- The overall reduction in all types of other WBCs is seen and this condition is termed as leucopenia. It decreases the infection fighting capacity of the body.
Problem In Bones And Calcium Absorption
The abnormal plasma cells of multiple myeloma also affect the cells which keep the bones strong. Two types of cells are constantly active in bones which keep them strong and healthy. These cells are:
- Osteoblasts- which make the new bone &
- Osteoclasts- which break down the old bone
The abnormal plasma cells increase the activity of Osteoclasts which speed up the breakdown of bones and the osteoblasts are unable to replace it with newer bones. This makes the bones porous and fragile causing easy fracture. The breakdown of bones also increases the calcium level in the blood.
The abnormal plasma cells are unable to fight with the infection like the normal plasma cells so the number of infections may increase.
Kidney damage or sometime even kidney failure have been seen in many patients, due to multiple myeloma.(1)
The plasma cells are found inside the soft tissue inside the bones known as the bone marrow. The plasma cells are an important part of our immune system. When the plasma cells begin to grow abnormally and start accumulating in the bone marrow in the form of clusters Multiple Myeloma occurs.
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