Mayo Clinic researchers have identified an immune system deficiency whose presence shows someone is up to four times likelier to die than a person without it. The glitch involves an antibody molecule called a free light chain; people whose immune systems produce too much of the molecule are far more likely to die of a life-threatening illness such as cancer, diabetes and cardiac and respiratory disease than those whose bodies make normal levels. The study is published in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Researchers studied blood samples from nearly 16,000 people 50 and older enrolled in a population-based study of plasma cell disorders in Olmsted County, Minn. They found that those who had the highest level of free light chains -- the top 10 percent -- were about four times more at risk of dying than those with lower levels. Even after accounting for differences in age, gender and kidney function, the risk of death was roughly twice as high.
The study suggests that high levels of free light chains are markers of increased immune system response to infection, inflammation or some other serious disorders, says lead researcher Vincent Rajkumar, M.D., a Mayo Clinic hematologist.
Researchers have known that high levels of free light chains are associated with increased risk of death among patients with plasma disorders, such as lymphomas and other blood cancers, but this is the first study to find that high levels of light chains are associated with increased mortality in the general population. Free light chain levels can be measured by using a serum free light chain assay, a simple blood test. This test is often used to monitor light chain levels in patients with plasma disorders such as myeloma to gauge how well they are responding to treatment.
However, Dr. Rajkumar cautions against administering this test with the intent of gauging one's risk of death.
"We do not recommend this test as a screening test, because it will only cause alarm," Dr. Rajkumar says. "We do not know why this marker is associated with higher rates of death. We do not have a way of turning things around. Therefore, I would urge caution in using this test until we figure out what to do about it and what these results mean."
Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce large amounts of antibodies and are key to fighting off infection. The antibodies are comprised of two different types of molecules tightly joined to each other: heavy chains and light chains. Most people produce at least a slightly excess amount of light chains that can be detected in the blood in the "free" state, unbound to heavy chains. Free light chains are not usually a threat to health, but excess levels serve as a marker of underlying immune system stimulation, kidney failure or plasma cell disorders such as myeloma.
Next steps for researchers include identifying the precise mechanisms by which excess free light chains are associated with a higher likelihood of death and determining if specific diagnostic or treatment options need to be pursued.The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Freelite, the manufacturer of the serum free light chain assay, provided the serum free light chain assay reagents for this study.
Nick Hanson | EurekAlert!
How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism
19.01.2018 | Weill Cornell Medicine
Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system
17.01.2018 | Duke University Medical Center
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy