Lab Med Online.  2012 Apr;2(2):80-86.

Evaluation of the Screening Tests for the Diagnosis of Plasma Cell Neoplasm

  • 1Department of Laboratory Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Plasma cell neoplasm is diagnosed by performing bone marrow examination, serum- and urine-protein electrophoresis, and quantification of free light chains of immunoglobulins. We characterized and quantified monoclonal proteins typical of different diagnosed conditions to determine the best screening test(s).
We retrospectively reviewed diagnosis of and the characteristics of monoclonal proteins from 113 patients with monoclonal gammopathy. Monoclonal proteins were detected by agarose-gel electrophoresis and capillary electrophoresis, and if the results were ambiguous, they were confirmed by immunofixation electrophoresis. Free light chains were measured using nephelometry.
The concentrations of monoclonal proteins in 113 patients with different conditions were as follows: multiple myeloma (MM) (67%), 2.66 (0.87-9.48) g/dL; monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) (26%), 0.62 (0.08-2.95) g/dL; lymphoma (3%), 3.65 (1.59-6.54) g/dL; Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (2%), 1.99 (1.08-2.90) g/dL; amyloidosis (2%), 0.61 g/dL; and POEMS syndrome (1%), 0.99 g/dL. There was a significant difference in the concentration and kappa/lambda ratio (which was based on the immunetype of the monoclonal proteins) of the monoclonal proteins in patients with MM and MGUS (P<0.001 and P=0.004, respectively). The diagnostic sensitivity of serum-protein electrophoresis, free-light-chain assay, and bone marrow analysis was 87.6%, 84.1%, and 84.5%, respectively. The sensitivity of a combination of 2 or 3 of these tests was higher at 100%.
A combination of protein electrophoresis with immunotyping and serum free-light-chain assay may be the best screening method for detecting monoclonal proteins since its non-invasiveness.


Plasma cell neoplasm; Monoclonal protein; Screening test
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