Serum Free Light Chains in Neoplastic Monoclonal Gammopathies: Relative Under-Detection of Lambda Dominant Kappa/Lambda Ratio, and Underproduction of Free Lambda Light Chains, as Compared to Kappa Light Chains, in Patients With Neoplastic Monoclonal Gammo

Won Sok Lee, Gurmukh Singh


Background: Quantitative evaluation of serum free light chains is recommended for the work up of monoclonal gammopathies. Immunoglobulin light chains are generally produced in excess of heavy chains. In patients with monoclonal gammopathy, ╬║/╬╗ ratio is abnormal less frequently with lambda chain lesions. This study was undertaken to ascertain if the levels of overproduction of the two light chain types and their detection rates are different in patients with neoplastic monoclonal gammopathies.

Methods: Results of serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP), serum protein immunofixation electrophoresis (SIFE), urine protein electrophoresis (UPEP), urine protein immunofixation electrophoresis (UIFE), and serum free light chain assay (SFLCA) in patients with monoclonal gammopathies were examined retrospectively.

Results: The kappa/iambda ratios were appropriately abnormal more often in kappa chain lesions. Ratios of kappa/iambda were normal in about 25% of patients with lambda chain lesions in whom free homogenous lambda light chains were detectable in urine. An illustrative case suggests underproduction of free lambda light chains, in some instances.

Conclusions: The lower prevalence of lambda dominant kappa/iambda ratio in lesions with lambda light chains is estimated to be due to relative under-detection of lambda dominantkappa/iambda ratio in about 25% of the patients and because lambda chains are not produced in as much excess of heavy chains as are kappa chains, in about 5% of the patients. The results question the medical necessity and clinical usefulness of the serum free light chain assay. UPEP/UIFE is under-utilized.

J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(7):562-569


Serum protein electrophoresis; Urine protein electrophoresis; Monoclonal gammopathy

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