Abstract

Background: The free light chain (FLC) assay allows a nephelometric measurement of this free kappa and lambda light chains that circulate as monomers or dimers, not bound to the immunoglobulin heavy chain. Estimation of the free light chain levels and their ratio has utility in screening, prognostication and treatment response assessment in multiple myeloma, and is particularly useful in light chain myeloma. Previous studies have suggested that absence of a functional rearrangement on at least one of the IgH allele is the basis of light chain myeloma. Translocations involving the immunoglobulin heavy chain (IgH) locus on chromosome 14 can be detected using FISH in over half of the patients with myeloma. We hypothesized that presence of an IgH translocation may be associated with compromised production of heavy chains and leads to unbalanced, excess production of clonal light chain. Methods: From February 1988 to May 1992, 653 patients with previously untreated multiple myeloma were enrolled on the phase III clinical trial E9486. Serum free light chains were run on stored sera obtained at baseline in 495 patients as part of a previous study. Among these patients, 314 patients were previously studied using FISH for presence or absence of IgH translocations, p53 abnormalities and deletion 13 and were included in the current analysis. Results: The median difference between the involved and uninvolved FLC (FLCdiff) was higher among the group of patients with any IgH translocation abnormality compared to those with none (Figure 1). This was particularly evident among the patients with a t(14;16) who had the highest FLCdiff. In a multivariate analysis, we examined if the prognostic value seen with FLCdiff was independent of the presence of IgH translocations t(4:14) and t(14;16), which are associated with a worse outcome. The presence of t(4;14) or t(14;16) was associated with FLCdiff groups using a cutoff point of 185, with 13% of those with FLCd ≤185 and 27% of those with FLCd > 185 having the translocations (P= 0.008). At the cutoff value of 185, the prognostic value of the FLC-diff on progression free and overall survival appears to be independent of these high risk IgH translocations (P-value=0.03 and 0.003, respectively for PFS and OS) We then examined the prognostic value of the FLC-diff in the group of patients without these two high risk abnormalities and were able to confirm that they remained prognostic for PFS (P=0.009) and OS (p=0.005). However, among the group of patients with either of the two high risk IgH abnormalities, FLCdiff estimate added little to assessment of their outcome (P=0.97 and 0.20, respectively for PFS and OS). Conclusion: Elevated free light chain levels are associated with presence of IgH translocations and these patients are more likely to harbor the high risk genetic abnormalities. Routine FISH testing for patients with newly diagnosed myeloma will allow us to confirm these and allow better risk stratification of the patients. Additional work needs to be done to help us better understand the molecular basis for unbalanced light chain excretion by myeloma cells and the current finding of the association with IgH translocation abnormalities should form the basis for this work.

Figure 1.

Distribution of FLC ratio (inv vs. uninv) and FLC difference (inv − uninv) among patients. Solid squares represent patients with t(4;14) or t(14;16) or t(11;14) or other 14q32 translocation; open circles represent patients without t(4;14), t(14;16), t(11;14) and any other 14q32 translocations. The horizontal dashed lines refer to FLC ratio original values of 100 and 1000, and vertical dashed lines refer to FLC difference original values of 10 and 100. Solid line indicates significant association (P<=0.05) between the dichotomized FLC groups and translocation status.

Figure 1.

Distribution of FLC ratio (inv vs. uninv) and FLC difference (inv − uninv) among patients. Solid squares represent patients with t(4;14) or t(14;16) or t(11;14) or other 14q32 translocation; open circles represent patients without t(4;14), t(14;16), t(11;14) and any other 14q32 translocations. The horizontal dashed lines refer to FLC ratio original values of 100 and 1000, and vertical dashed lines refer to FLC difference original values of 10 and 100. Solid line indicates significant association (P<=0.05) between the dichotomized FLC groups and translocation status.

Disclosures: Bradwell:Binding Site: Employment.

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