Laboratory testing for cryoglobulins

Authors

  • Gabriela Motyckova,

    1. Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Mandakolathur Murali

    Corresponding author
    1. Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
    • Clinical Immunology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
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  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

Abstract

Cryoglobulins are immunoglobulins that precipitate below 37°C and can cause multiorgan damage. There are three types of cryoglobulins: Type I (also called simple), which is mostly associated with monoclonal gammopathy and/or other hematologic disorders and Type II and Type III (known as mixed cryoglobulins), which are associated with infectious and systemic diseases. Testing for cryoglobulins is complicated by lack of reference range, standards, and stringency in maintaining testing temperature conditions. Identification of cryoprecipitate can be critical for patient care; therefore, correct testing conditions are crucial for reliable cryoglobulin testing. The patient's blood sample should be kept at 37°C initially to avoid premature precipitation of cryoglobulins and thereby decreasing the yield for subsequent identification. This could cause a false negative result. After warm centrifugation or warm cell precipitation, the clear serum is observed at 4°C for formation of cryoprecipitate. The cryoprecipitate is then washed in cold buffer, and the resulting precipitate is warmed to 37°C and subjected to further analysis by immunodiffusion and immunofixation. In addition to Meltzer's triad of purpura, weakness and arthralgias, cryoglobulinemias have protean manifestations involving skin, joints, kidney, nervous system, as well as the hematopoietic system. The management of cryoglobulinemia especially in patients with organ damage remains difficult. Treatment of cryoglobulinemia focuses on management of the underlying lymphoproliferative disorder or infectious or systemic causes. Medical management may also include corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents and plasmapheresis. Rituximab therapy seems to abrogate the aberrant B cell response. Am. J.Hematol. 86:500–502, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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