Clinical spectrum of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cryoglobulinemia varies from an asymptomatic presentation to severe vasculitis and lymphoma. A recent study in HCV-negative patients suggests that low cryoglobulins (CGs) levels are responsible for severe renal and neurological complications. The aim of this study was to identify a panel of serological biomarkers associated with low levels of CGs in HCV-positive patients. We studied a population of 79 untreated patients with chronic HCV infection: 13 naïve patients without CGs; 28 patients with asymptomatic mixed cryoglobulinemia (MC) and low levels of CGs (16/28 with polyclonal type III and 12/28 with microheterogeneous type III CGs); 38 patients with symptomatic MC and high levels of type II CGs. Serum samples were collected and examined for rheumatoid factor (RF) IgG and IgM, free light chains (FLCs) and C3 and C4 complement components. We found that RF-IgG and IgM, free k chains and k+λ were increased while C4 component was reduced, both in symptomatic and asymptomatic patients. Our results suggest that, even in absence of MC symptoms, the low levels of CGs may represent a trigger of activation for immune system in course of HCV infection. The identification of a correlated biomarkers panel could improve the clinical management of these patients and pave the way for target treatment strategies. © 2018 BioFactors, 9999(9999):1–8, 2018.
- free light chains