Immunoglobulin synthesis in primary and myeloma amyloidosis

J L Preud'homme, D Ganeval, J P Grünfeld, L Striker, J C Brouet
Clinical and Experimental Immunology 1988, 73 (3): 389-94
Bone marrow cells from 14 patients with primary amyloidosis and two patients with myeloma amyloidosis were studied by immunofluorescence and biosynthesis experiments after incorporation of radioactive amino acids. Cells from four patients affected with non-myeloma secondary amyloidosis were also studied as controls. In primary amyloidosis, monoclonal plasma cell populations were demonstrated by immunofluorescence in virtually every case, even in patients without serum and urine monoclonal immunoglobulin and with a normal percentage of bone marrow plasma cells. Biosynthesis experiments showed the secretion of large amounts of free light chains, most often of the lambda type, in every primary or myeloma amyloidosis case and the presence of light chain fragments in almost all cases. Special features in certain patients were the synthesis of short gamma chains (two cases), assembly block at the HL half molecule level of a monoclonal IgA (one case) and secretion of decameric abnormally large kappa chains (one case). This is in contrast with non-myelomatous secondary amyloidosis where the distribution of bone marrow plasma cells was normal by immunofluorescence and where normal sized immunoglobulins were synthesized, without free light chain secretion and fragments. These data confirm that primary amyloidosis belongs to plasma cell dyscrasias and emphasize the role of free light chains and light chain fragments in the pathogenesis of amyloid deposition.

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