- Associated Conditions
- Essential Mixed Cryoglobulinemia
What is cryoglobulinemia?
Cryoglobulinemia is a medical condition that is caused by proteins called cryoglobulins, which are present in the blood. Cryoglobulins are abnormal proteins that by definition have the unusual property of precipitating from the serum when it is chilled in the laboratory and then dissolves back into the serum upon rewarming.
What does it mean if you test positive for cryoglobulin?
What conditions are associated with cryoglobulinemia?
Cryoglobulins in the blood (cryoglobulinemia) can cause a variety of problems throughout the body. These include complications resulting from abnormal "thickness" of the blood (such as stroke or blood clots in the eyes leading to blindness) and inflammation of blood vessels, referred to as vasculitis. Vasculitis of arteries can result in blockage of blood flow, leading to damage to the organ(s) supplied by the affected blood vessels, such as in the skin, kidneys, or elsewhere. It can also cause bleeding when the blood vessels leak.
What is essential mixed cryoglobulinemia?
When the cryoglobulin proteins are a mixture of various antibody types, and forming for unknown reasons (essential), the condition is referred to as essential mixed cryoglobulinemia.
Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is characterized by joint pains and swelling (arthritis), enlargement of the spleen, skin vasculitis with purplish patches, and nerve and kidney disease. This can lead to recurrent pain in the abdomen, heart attack, and bleeding in the lungs. Weight loss can occur as well as poor appetite.
Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is sometimes associated with hepatitis C virus infection.
What is the treatment for cryoglobulinemia?
Essential mixed cryoglobulinemia is treated with combinations of medications which reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Medications used include nonsteroid antiinflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, and others), steroids (prednisone, prednisolone), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), chlorambucil (Leukeran), and azathioprine (Imuran). Plasmapheresis (hemapheresis), a procedure whereby the blood's serum is filtered to remove the cryoglobulins, is also performed for severe symptoms.
Studies have demonstrated some benefit of using interferon-alpha for those patients with evidence of hepatitis C virus, particularly those with mild disease or in those with remission of manifestations after immune suppression treatment.
What is the prognosis for cryoglobulinemia?
The prognosis and natural history of the illness is not predictable. Kidney damage can be serious and some reports state that permanent failure of the kidney occurs in approximately 10% of patients. Death can occur, usually from serious heart disease, infection, or brain hemorrhage.
Fervenza, Fernando C., MD, PhD, et al. "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of the mixed cryoglobulinemia syndrome (essential mixed cryoglobulinemia)." UptoDate. Updated Jan 7, 2016.
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Abdominal PainAbdominal pain can have many causes that range from mild to severe. Some of these causes include bloating, gas, colitis, endometriosis, food poisoning, GERD, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), ovarian cysts, abdominal adhesions, diverticulitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, gallbladder disease, liver disease, and cancers. Signs and symptoms of the more serious causes include dehydration, bloody or black tarry stools, severe abdominal pain, pain with no urination or painful urination. Treatment for abdominal pain depends upon the cause.
aspirinAspirin (Aspirin, Arthritis Foundation Safety Coated Aspirin, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Children's Aspirin, Ecotrin, and many others) is a NSAID used to treat fever, pain, and inflammation in the body that results from forms of arthritis, and soft tissue injuries. Aspirin is also used for decreasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Side effects, drug interactions, pregnancy information, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Arthritis (Joint Inflammation)Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout.
azathioprine (Azasan)Azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) is a drug prescribed for prevention of organ rejection in kidney transplants. Off label uses for azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, myasthenia gravis, ulcerative colitis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Side effects, drug interactions, and safety during pregnancy information should be reviewed prior to taking this drug.
Apheresis (Hemapheresis, Pheresis)Apheresis (hemapheresis, pheresis) is a process of removing a specific component from the blood of a donor or patient that contains disease-provoking elements. Forms of apheresis include:
- leukapheresis or leukopheresis,
- lymphopheresis or lymphapheresis, and
- myasthenia gravis,
- severe rheumatoid arthritis,
- vacuities, and more.
Hepatitis C (HCV, Hep C)Hepatitis C is an inflammation of the liver due to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is usually spread by blood transfusion, hemodialysis, and needle sticks, especially with intravenous drug abuse. Symptoms of chronic hepatitis include fatigue, fever, muscle aches, loss of appetite, and fever. Chronic hepatitis C may be cured in most individuals with drugs that target specific genomes of hepatitis C.
Interferon: Potential COVID-19 TreatmentInterferons are a family of natural occurring proteins. Interferons are used to treat many diseases that involve the immune system for example, cancers, hepatitis, AIDS, multiple sclerosis (MS), genital and perianal warts, and granulomatous disease. Two kinds of interferons are under investigation for treatment of severe cases of COVID-19 coronavirus disease, caused by the deadly SARS-nCoV-2 virus.
Kidney (Renal) Failure
Kidney failure can occur from an acute event or a chronic condition or disease. Prerenal kidney failure is caused by blood loss, dehydration, or medication. Some of the renal causes of kidney failure include sepsis, medications, rhabdomyolysis, multiple myeloma, and acute glomerulonephritis.
Post renal causes of kidney failure include bladder obstruction, prostate problems, tumors, or kidney stones.Treatment options included diet, medications, or dialysis.
prednisolone (Orapred, Pediapred)Prednisolone (Flo-Pred, Pediapred, Orapred, Orapred ODT) is a corticosteroid prescribed to achieve prompt suppression of inflammation due to inflammatory and allergic conditions (for example, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, hay fever, types of dermatitis, and many others. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
Prednisone is a drug that belongs to the corticosteroid drug class, and is an anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressant. It's used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions, for example: inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), lupus, asthma, cancers, and several types of arthritis.
Common side effects are weight gain, headache, fluid retention, and muscle weakness. Other effects and adverse events include glaucoma, cataracts, obesity, facial hair growth, moon face, and growth retardation in children. This medicine also causes psychiatric problems, for example: depression, insomnia, mood swings, personality changes, and psychotic behavior. Serious side effects include reactions to diabetes drugs, infections, and necrosis of the hips and joints.
Skin BiopsyDuring a skin biopsy, a piece of skin is removed under a local anesthesia and examined using a microscope. The different types of skin biopsy include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose skin growths, skin conditions, and skin cancers.
StrokeA stroke is an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain caused by either a blood clot (ischemic) or bleeding (hemorrhagic). Symptoms of a stroke may include weakness, numbness, double vision or vision loss, confusion, vertigo, difficulty speaking, or understanding speech. A physical exam, imaging tests, neurological exam, and blood tests may be used to diagnose a stroke. Treatment may include administration of clot-busting drugs, supportive care, and in some instances, neurosurgery. The risk of stroke can be reduced by controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and stopping smoking.
VasculitisVasculitis (arteritis, angiitis) is a general term for a group of uncommon diseases which feature inflammation of the blood vessels. Each form of vasculitis has its own characteristic pattern of symptoms. The diagnosis of vasculitis is definitively established after a biopsy of involved tissue demonstrates the pattern of blood vessel inflammation. Treatment is directed toward decreasing the inflammation of the arteries and improving the function of affected organs.