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Cryoglobulin Print E-mail

Dr. Kennedy Cryoglobulin is an abnormal blood protein that has the unusual properties of precipitating from the blood serum when it is chilled and redissolving when it is rewarmed. Cryoglobulins are gamma globulins with a molecular weight of around 200,000. Cryoglobulins can cause problems by causing the blood to be abnormally "thick" which increases the risk of blood clots forming in the brain, eyes, and heart. Cryoglobulins are also associated with inflammation of blood vessels (termed vasculitis) which increases the risk of blockage of arteries. Cryoglobulins are a key part of a condition called essential mixed cryoglobulinemia. Cryoglobulins can also accompany diseases such as multiple myeloma, dermatomyositis, and lymphoma. Sometimes small amounts of cryoglobulin are discovered by accident in the lab in a serum sample from someone with no apparent symptoms. The condition is called cryoglobulinemia. Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia (EMC) involves cryoglobulin proteins which are a mixture of various antibody types that form for unknown ("essential" - a medical word for "we don't know why") reasons. EMC is characterized by joint pains and swelling (arthritis), enlargement of the spleen, skin vasculitis with purplish patches, and nerve, kidney and heart disease. Treatment is with medications which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Plasmapheresis, in which the serum is replaced with saline (salt water solution), may be done in severe cases. Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is treated with combinations of medications which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Medications used include nonsteroid antiinflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, and others), cortisone preparations (Prednisone, Prednisolone), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), chlorambucil (Leukeran), and azathioprine (Imuran). Recent studies have demonstrated some benefit of using interferon-alpha for those patients with evidence of hepatitis C virus, particularly those with mild disease or in those with remission of manifestations after immune suppression treatment.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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