Background: Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is a premalignant plasma cell disorder that carries a 1% per year risk of progression to multiple myeloma (MM) or related malignancy. The prevalence and natural history of MGUS, in which by definition intact immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) is expressed, has been well described. However, up to 20% of myeloma (MM) is characterized by complete lack of IgH expression (Light-chain MM); the prevalence of a corresponding precursor entity, light chain MGUS (LC-MGUS) has not been determined. We report the first prevalence estimates of LC-MGUS in the general population from a large, well-defined geographic population using modern laboratory techniques.

Methods: The cohort for this study was derived from one previously assembled by us to estimate the prevalence of MGUS (

N Engl J Med
). The original cohort used to estimate the prevalence of MGUS consisted of 21,463 of the 28,038 enumerated residents aged 50 or over of Olmsted County Minnesota as of January 1, 1995. The sensitive serum free light chain (FLC) assay (The Binding Site Limited, Birmingham, U.K.) was performed on stored serum samples from these 21,463 persons. IgH expression was determined by immunofixation on all FLC results that had an abnormal kappa/lambda ratio (<0.26 or >1.65). LC-MGUS was defined as the presence of an abnormal FLC ratio and a negative immunofixation for IgH expression.

Results: Adequate stored serum samples were available in 20,733 (97%) of the 21,463 persons. To date, the FLC assay has been performed and results were available for analysis on samples from 16,637 persons. An abnormal FLC ratio was observed in 572 persons. IgH expression was detected in 255 of these cases on immunofixation; these persons are considered as having MGUS, and were excluded from the estimation of LC-MGUS prevalence. This resulted in 317 persons out of 16,637 who had an abnormal FLC ratio without evidence of IgH expression, resulting in an estimated prevalence of LC- MGUS of 2%. Of the 317 cases of LC-MGUS identified in this study, 217 were kappa and 100 were lambda; in 35 cases the presence of the corresponding monoclonal light chain was apparent on immunofixation. The median age of the cohort of LC-MGUS was 62 years; males=151, females =166. The involved FLC level ranged from 0.118–270.0 mg/dL. The FLC ratio ranged from 0.014–0.253 (lambda) and 1.67–511.01 (kappa). So far, progression to multiple myeloma has occurred in 4 patients, a rate much higher than what is expected based on the prevalence of myeloma in the general population. Two additional patients have developed CLL.

Conclusions: LC-MGUS is prevalent in 2% of the general population aged 50 years of age or older. The natural history of this disorder needs to be determined.

Disclosures: Dr. Bradwell is Chairman of The Binding Site which manufactures the Free Light Chain Assay.; Dr. Bradwell - The Binding Site which manufactures the Free Light Chain Assay.; This study was supported in part by The Binding Site which manufactures the Free Light Chain Assay.

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