Accurate serum cryoglobulin detection is important to allow prompt treatment but laboratory testing requires stringent pre-analytical conditions and has long turnaround times. Serum protein electrophoresis (EPG) for paraproteinaemia and rheumatoid factor (RF) analysis may offer an effective initial screening strategy for the presence of cryoglobulinaemia. We retrospectively assessed the sensitivity of ancillary EPG and RF testing for the presence of serum cryoglobulinaemia in 586 eligible cryoglobulin positive samples received at the Royal Prince Alfred and Liverpool Hospital immunopathology laboratories over an 11-year period. Ninety-one percent of all cryoglobulin positive samples had either a detectable paraprotein or RF activity, with greatest sensitivity for type I and type II cryoglobulins (97% and 98%, respectively). The sensitivity remained high irrespective of whether EPG and RF analysis was performed with the same, or different, pre-analytical collection conditions to the cryoglobulin collection (92% vs 90%, p=0.46). Only two patients with detected cryoglobulins and no associated paraprotein or RF activity had clinical features of cryoglobulinaemia and neither required treatment. This study demonstrates that serum EPG and RF analysis has high sensitivity for the detection of clinically relevant cryoglobulinaemia, even when not collected under ideal pre-analytical conditions, and potentially offers a prompt and effective screening strategy.
Keywords: Cryoglobulin; paraprotein; rheumatoid factor; screening; serum protein electrophoresis.
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