Monoclonal gammopathy (MG) is frequently associated with kidney disease (monoclonal gammopathy of renal significance; MGRS). International guidelines recommend the use of the serum free light chain (FLC) assay when screening for monoclonal gammopathies; an abnormal FLC ratio and an elevation of at least one FLC isotype indicates an Ig LC clone. However it is not known if, in patients with normal kidney function, the presence of a FLC clone predisposes to the future development of kidney disease.

Patients and Methods

A 22485 patient database with multiple laboratory tests and up to 15-year follow up (Regional Medical Laboratory, Tulsa, OK, USA) was analysed. There were 425 confirmed MG patients with no progression to multiple myeloma. Median age was 72 years (22-97 years) and M/F ratio was 177/248. FLC kappa and lambda were measured nephelometrically with Freelite® (The Binding Site Ltd, Birmingham, UK). Baseline was defined on the first available FLC measurement; this was available at inception in 258 (61%) patients and during follow-up in 167 (39%) patients. 128 patients with MG and an eGFR <60ml/min/1.75m2 and/or a clinical diagnosis of renal disease (ICD9 code) prior to and up to 100 days after baseline were excluded from the analysis. Statistical analyses, including Receiver Operating Characteristics (ROC) to identify monoclonal FLC (iFLC) cut-off were carried out using SPSS v21.


297 (of 425) patients had a MG with normal renal function at baseline; 118 (40%) patients had an abnormal FLC ratio (88 kappa, median: 35.5 (7.7-2675) mg/L; 30 lambda, median: 83.6 (0.9-3552) mg/L). 21/297 (7%) patients developed renal impairment during the course of follow up (median: 852 (114-2388) days); 15/21 (71%) had monoclonal FLC production. In these patients there was no association between iFLC (median: 47.8 (0.9-3552) mg/L) and creatinine (median: 0.9 (0.5-1.5) mg/dL) levels (p=0.3966). Time to renal impairment (TTRI) was significantly shorter for patients with an abnormal v normal FLC ratio (75% TTRI: 1261 days v not reached (NR), hazard ratio (HR): 5.31; p<0.001). Age between groups was similar (median: 68 (22-97) v 72 (39-92) years; p=0.0544). In 118 patients withan abnormal FLC ratio, Cox regression analysis identified iFLC concentrations as being associated with the development of impaired renal function (p=0001). Furthermore, patients with iFLC>100mg/L (n=25) were at a significantly increased risk of developing renal impairment compared with patients with iFLC<100mg/L (n=93) (75% TTRI: 874 days v NR, respectively; HR: 6.10; p<0.001).


These results indicate that the presence of an Ig LC clone is associated with an increased risk of people with MG and normal kidney function progressing to renal disease.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.

Sign in via your Institution