The Complexity and Heterogeneity of Monoclonal Immunoglobulin-Associated Renal Diseases

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2018 Jul;29(7):1810-1823. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2017121319. Epub 2018 Apr 27.


Monoclonal gammopathies are characterized by the overproduction of monoclonal Ig (MIg) detectable in the serum or urine resulting from a clonal proliferation of plasma cells or B lymphocytes. The underlying hematologic conditions range from malignant neoplasms of plasma cells or B lymphocytes, including multiple myeloma and B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders, to nonmalignant small clonal proliferations. The term MGUS implies presence of an MIg in the setting of a "benign" hematologic condition without renal or other end organ damage. The term MGRS was recently introduced to indicate monoclonal gammopathy with MIg-associated renal disease in the absence of hematologic malignancy. Most MIg-associated renal diseases result from the direct deposition of nephrotoxic MIg or its light- or heavy-chain fragments in various renal tissue compartments. Immunofluorescence microscopy is essential to identify the offending MIg and define its tissue distribution. Mass spectrometry is helpful in difficult cases. Conditions caused by direct tissue deposition of MIg include common disorders, such as cast nephropathy, amyloidosis, and MIg deposition diseases, as well as uncommon disorders, such as immunotactoid glomerulopathy, proliferative GN with MIg deposits, light-chain proximal tubulopathy, and the rare entities of crystal-storing histiocytosis and crystalglobulinemia. Indirect mechanisms of MIg-induced renal disease can cause C3 glomerulopathy or thrombotic microangiopathy without tissue MIg deposits. Treatment of MIg-associated renal disease is aimed at eliminating the clonal plasma cell or B-cell population as appropriate. Both the renal and the underlying hematologic disorders influence the management and prognosis of MIg-associated renal diseases.

Keywords: Renal pathology; kidney disease; multiple myeloma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloidosis / complications
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis
  • Kidney Diseases / etiology*
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Kidney Glomerulus
  • Kidney Tubules
  • Laser Capture Microdissection
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Paraproteinemias / blood
  • Paraproteinemias / complications*
  • Paraproteinemias / diagnosis*
  • Terminology as Topic


  • Immunoglobulin Heavy Chains
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains