Structural analysis of urinary light chains and proteomic analysis of hyaline tubular casts in light chain associated kidney disorders

PeerJ. 2019 Oct 2;7:e7819. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7819. eCollection 2019.


Background: Monoclonal overproduction of kappa and/or lambda light chains might result in renal light chain deposition disease. Light chain associated cast nephropathy and renal AL-amyloidosis represent two further pathologies going along with monoclonal gammopathy of renal significance and multiple myeloma. While cast nephropathy often manifests with acute kidney injury, AL-amyloidosis is rather accompanied with chronic kidney disease.

Methods: Urine samples were collected from 17 patients with multiple myeloma or monoclonal gammopathy. The urine sediment was stained for cast morphology by H/E and light chain immunofluorescence. Following micro-selection of casts under microscope, proteomic analysis of casts was performed by mass spectrometry. Sucrose gradient sedimentation was employed and light chain architecture examined by immunoblotting. Uromodulin was measured by ELISA in sucrose gradient fractions.

Results: Urinary casts were observed of about 30 µm in diameter by H/E staining and under immunofluorescence microscopy. Casts with a diameter of 20 µm were observed as a novel variant. Proteome analysis showed that in addition to the expected light chain variants produced by the malignant clone of plasma cells, also histones such as H2B and cathepsin B were contained. Uromodulin was not detectable in urinary casts of all patients. All eleven patients with lambda light chains showed predominant dimerized light chains in the urine immunoblot. Six patients with kappa light chains presented with predominantly monomeric forms of light chains in the immunoblot. The densitometric evaluated ratio of lambda dimers vs. monomers was significantly higher (2.12 ± 0.75) when compared with the ratio of kappa dimers vs. monomers (0.64 ± 0.47), p = 0.00001. Aggregates of light chains separated in part into denser sucrose fractions.

Conclusion: This work on urinary casts and light chains demonstrates that hyaline tubular casts represent a complex formation of protein-protein aggregates with histones and cathepsin B identified as novel cast components. Apart from the proteomic composition of the casts, also the formation of the light chains and aggregates is of relevance. Dimerized light chains, which are typical for lambda paraproteins, might be less dialyzable than monomeric forms and may therefore identify patients less responsive to high cut-off dialysis.

Keywords: Amyloidosis; Casts; Immunoblot; Light chain disease; Myeloma; Proteomic analysis; Urinary sediment.

Grant support

The authors received no funding for this work.