Abstract

Background: Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) is a common pre-malignant plasma cell disorder associated with a 1% per year risk of progression to multiple myeloma or related malignancy. Since the risk factors for MGUS are poorly defined, the goal of the present study was to determine if the risk of MGUS is increased in first degree relatives of patients with known multiple myeloma (MM) or MGUS.

Methods: MGUS probands (index cases) were recruited from a population-based prevalence study of MGUS in Olmsted County, MN while MM probands were recruited through the Mayo Clinic practice. Consenting probands were asked to provide contact information on all first-degree relatives ages 40 years and older. Serum samples were then collected from first-degree relatives with informed consent and subjected to agaraose-gel electrophoresis and immunofixation. The prevalence of MGUS in first-degree relatives of MM and MGUS probands was compared to population-based rates from Olmsted County using risk ratios (RR). For comparisons to the reference population, only cases detected by protein electrophoresis and confirmed by immunofixation were included so that the diagnostic strategy was identical in the two groups being compared.

Results: Serum samples were obtained from 911 relatives of 329 unique families, including 493 siblings, 324 children and 94 parents of patients with MGUS or MM. Using protein electrophoresis, monoclonal protein was detected in the serum of 55 (6%) while immunofixation identified 28 additional relatives (3%), for an age- and sex-adjusted prevalence rate of 8.1% (95%CI: 6.3, 9.8). The age-specific prevalence of MGUS in first-degree relatives increased with age (1.9%, 6.9%, 11.6%, 14.6%, and 21.0% for ages 40–49, 50–59, 60–69, 70–79 and ≥80, respectively; P<0.001). Based on similar MGUS detection methodology as the reference population, there was a significantly higher risk of MGUS in first-degree relatives (age-adjusted RR, 2.6, 95%CI: 1.9, 3.4) compared to the reference population. The increased risk (P<0.001) was seen both in relatives of MM probands (RR, 2.0, 95%CI: 1.4, 2.8), as well as MGUS probands (RR, 3.3, 95%CI: 2.1, 4.8). This association was similar across age of proband, age and gender of relative, and relationship of the first-degree relative. When examining whether the increased risk of MGUS in relatives was specific to probands with a large monoclonal protein concentration or specific monoclonal immunoglobulin isotype (i.e. high-risk MGUS phenotype), there was suggestion of a greater risk for relatives of probands with a high (3 1.5 g/dL) M-protein (RR, 2.8, 95%CI: 2.0,3.8) compared to lower M-protein levels (RR, 1.8, 95%CI: 1.1,2.8) although the difference did not reach statistical significance (P=0.12). The risk of MGUS in relatives did not differ by proband’s isotype (IgG vs. other).

Conclusions: First-degree relatives of patients with MM or MGUS have a greater than two-fold risk of MGUS compared to the general population, implying underlying genetic predisposition for these diseases and providing rationale for identifying genetic determinants of MGUS. This study also provides important baseline rates of MGUS in first-degree relatives that impact the clinical care of these patients.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes

Corresponding author