Serum IgM level as predictor of symptomatic hyperviscosity in patients with Waldenström macroglobulinaemia

Br J Haematol. 2017 Jun;177(5):717-725. doi: 10.1111/bjh.14743. Epub 2017 May 9.


Symptomatic hyperviscosity is a common clinical manifestation in patients with Waldenström macroglobulinaemia (WM) and high serum IgM levels. Prompt intervention is required to prevent catastrophic events, such as retinal or central nervous system bleeding. Identifying patients at high risk of symptomatic hyperviscosity might support the decision to treat asymptomatic patients before irreversible damage occurs. We carried out a large retrospective study in 825 newly diagnosed WM patients, of who 113 (14%) developed symptomatic hyperviscosity. The median serum IgM level at the time of symptomatic hyperviscosity was 61·8 g/l (range 31-124 g/l). Forty-four patients (36%) had symptomatic hyperviscosity at the time of WM diagnosis. A serum IgM level >60 g/l at diagnosis was associated with a median time to symptomatic hyperviscosity of 3 months, whereas the median time for patients with serum IgM level of 50·01-60 g/l was approximately 3 years. Adjusting for other clinical factors, the odds of developing symptomatic hyperviscosity were 370-fold higher with serum IgM levels >60 g/l, and showed an association with CXCR4 mutational status. Symptomatic hyperviscosity did not impact overall survival (P = 0·12). The findings support the use of serum IgM level >60 g/l as a criterion for initiation of therapy in an otherwise asymptomatic WM patient.

Keywords: CXCR4 mutation; MYD88 mutation; Waldenström macroglobulinaemia; hyperviscosity; immunoglobulin M.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Viscosity / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasmapheresis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia / blood*


  • Immunoglobulin M