Evaluation of cryoglobulins

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1999 Feb;123(2):119-25. doi: 10.5858/1999-123-0119-EOC.


Cryoglobulins are immunoglobulins that precipitate as serum is cooled below core body temperatures. A cryoglobulin screen is the observation of a serum specimen collected and separated while warm for cryoprecipitation over a period of up to 7 days. Values of the screening may be reported as a cryocrit, which is the volume percent of the precipitate compared with the total volume of serum. Further proof that the precipitate is indeed a cryoglobulin can be obtained by demonstrating resolubilization with warming and immunochemical analysis by immunofixation. Detailed characterization of cryoglobulins may also require rigorous washing of the precipitate, quantitation of total protein and immunoglobulins, and evaluation of serum for monoclonal gammopathy, rheumatoid factor activity, evidence of complement activation, and presence of hepatitis C virus seroreactivity or hepatitis C virus RNA. The single most important variable confounding standardization of cryoglobulin testing is the frequently improper separation of warm serum from other blood elements prior to screening and characterization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemical Precipitation
  • Cryoglobulins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Laboratories, Hospital / standards*
  • Paraproteinemias / blood*


  • Cryoglobulins
  • Immunoglobulins