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Essential Mixed Cryoglobulinemia Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is a condition in which cryoglobulin proteins, which are a mixture of various antibody types, form for unknown (essential) reasons. Cryoglobulins are abnormal blood proteins that, by definition, have the unusual properties of precipitating from the blood serum when it is chilled (hence the "cryo-") and redissolving upon rewarming. Cryoglobulins are gamma globulins with a molecular weight of approximately 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 (stroke), eyes, and heart, also by Inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis) which increases the risk of blockage of arteries. Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia 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 blood's serum is replaced with saline (salt water solution), may be done in severe cases. Cryoglobulinemia can also accompany another disease such as multiple myeloma, dermatomyositis, or lymphoma. Sometimes, small amounts of cryoglobulins are discovered by accident in the lab in a serum sample from someone with no apparent symptoms.



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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