Quantification of β region IgA paraproteins - should we include immunochemical “heavy/light chain” measurements? Counterpoint

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Abstract

Serum protein electrophoresis (SPE), serum immunofixation (s-IFE), free light chain measurement (FLC) and nephelometric measurements of total immunoglobulin in serum (IgTot) are some of the laboratory tests required for the management of plasma cell proliferative disorders. The monoclonal protein is usually visible on SPE as a spike (M-spike) in the γ region and the derived densitogram is used to quantify it relative to serum total protein concentration. IgA M-protein, however, often migrates in the β region on SPE and its quantification can be masked by other serum proteins that migrate in this region. The immunoassay Hevylite™ (heavy/light chain, HLC) seems to solve this problem: it quantifies the involved/uninvolved isotype, calculating the ratio IgAκ/IgAλ, considered indicative of clonal proliferation. However, this test seems redundant in the case of artifacts on SPE such as obvious hemolysis or lipemia, or if the IgA M-spike is clearly visible in the β region. In conclusion whereas the IgA HLC assay does not represent an alternative to SPE and s-IFE in the diagnostic patient workup, it may prove to be an alternative to SPE, s-IFE and total IgA quantification in risk stratification and evaluation of response to therapy in patients affected by MM and other monoclonal plasma proliferative disorders.

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