Oligoclonal Pattern/Abnormal Protein Bands in Post-Treatment Plasma Cell Myeloma Patients: Implications for Protein Electrophoresis and Serum Free Light Chain Assay Results

Gurmukh Singh


Background: The impact of autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) in plasma cell myeloma patients on the frequency, quality, and timing of oligoclonal pattern in serum protein electrophoresis/immunofixation electrophoresis (SPEP/SIFE) and serum free light chain assay (SFLCA) was evaluated.

Methods: Laboratory results and clinical data for 251 patients with plasma cell myeloma, who had SPEP/SIFE and/or SFLCA performed between January 2010 and December 2016 were reviewed. The results for SPEP/SIFE and SFLCA were compared in patients with ASCT to those without ASCT. The implications of oligoclonal pattern in interpretation of SPEP/SIFE and SFLCA - kappa/lambda ratio were addressed.

Results: In 251 patients, a total of 3,134 observations, of either SPEP/SIFE and/or SFLCA, were reviewed. One hundred fifty-nine patients received ASCT. The incidence of oligoclonal patterns was significantly higher after ASCT. More than half of the oligoclonal patterns developed in the first year after transplantation. In 13 of the 84 patients with lambda chain restricted plasma cell myeloma, thekappa/lambda ratio was kappa dominant in the presence of oligoclonal pattern. There was no reversal ofkappa/lambda ratio in patients with kappa chain restricted plasma cell myelomas.

Conclusions: ASCT is associated with significantly higher incidence of oligoclonal patterns than with chemotherapy alone. The presence of oligoclonal patterns has the potential to interfere with the interpretation of SPEP/SIFE and ascertainment of complete remission. At a minimum, the oligoclonal pattern caused an incorrect kappa dominantkappa/lambda ratio in 15.5% of patients with lambda chain restricted plasma cell myeloma. If a similar rate were to be applied to the 167 kappa chain myeloma patients, about 26 of these would have displayed an erroneous kappa chain dominantkappa/lambda ratio. The presence of oligoclonal pattern further degrades the performance of already dubious SFLCA. The need for recording the location of monoclonal spike in SPEP/SIFE and higher resolution protein electrophoresis methods are highlighted.

J Clin Med Res. 2017;9(8):671-679
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/jocmr3049w


Serum protein electrophoresis; Oligoclonal pattern; Abnormal protein bands; Location of monoclonal spike; Serum free light chain assay; Complete remission; Multiple myeloma; Plasma cell myeloma

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