Free light chains and autoimmunity

Donato Rigante, Mariapaola Marino, Gian Ludovico Rapaccini, Cecilia Napodano, Krizia Pocino, Annunziata Stefanile, Umberto Basile, Francesca Gulli, Valerio Basile

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


The study of free light chains (FLCs) has grown as area of enormous interest for many clinicians with the aim of disclosing the exact biological role and potential use of FLCs in the clinical routine. Moreover, the attention given to immunological functions of FLCs has sparked a new light into their pathogenic contribution in different chronic autoimmune-based inflammatory diseases. The release of intracellular antigens following cell death or ineffective clearance of apoptotic debris, modification of self-antigens, and molecular mimicry may trigger the production of immunoglobulins after activation and polyclonal expansion of B cells, by which FLCs are released. The discovery of polyclonal FLCs as potential biomarkers started with the observation of their increased concentrations in a variety of biological fluids related to patients with autoimmune diseases. This review deals with the use of polyclonal FLCs for identifying severity and monitoring outcome after treatment in some autoimmune diseases, namely systemic lupus erythematosus, myasthenia gravis, systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren's syndrome, as supported by the fact that levels of FLCs correlate with both B cell activation markers and other specific markers of disease activity. In a near future, following the evidence shown, FLCs might probably work as early prognostic markers of severity and also as indicators of response to treatment or early assessment of relapse in selected autoimmune diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)484-492
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Autoimmunity
  • Free light chain
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Innovative biotechnologies
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Personalized medicine
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic sclerosis


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