“Niche” is defined as a specialized regulatory microenvironment, consisting of components which control the fate specification of stem and progenitor cells, as well as maintaining their development by supplying the requisite factors. Bone marrow (BM) niche has a well-organized architecture and is composed of osteoblasts, osteoclasts, bone marrow endothelial cells, stromal cells, adipocytes and extracellular matrix proteins (ECM). These elements play an essential role in the survival, growth and differentiation of diverse lineages of blood cells, but also provide optimal growth environment for multiple hematological malignancies including multiple myeloma (MM). MM is a neoplastic plasma cell disorder which not only resides in BM but also converts it into specialized neoplastic niche. This niche aids the growth and spreading of tumor cells by a complex interplay of cytokines, chemokines, proteolytic enzymes and adhesion molecules.
Moreover, the MM BM microenvironment was shown to confer survival and chemoresistance of MM cells to current therapies. However, our knowledge in this field is still in infancy and many details are unknown. Therefore, there is a strong need to further dissect the MM BM niche and understand the process of how the complex interactions with BM milieu influence MM growth, survival and development of resistance to chemotherapy. A better and more detailed understanding of neoplastic MM niche will provide a guiding model for identifying and validating novel targeted therapies directed against MM. Therefore, in the present review, we have focused principally on the basic features, physical structures, and functions of the BM niche and have highlighted its interaction with MM cells.