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Serum cryoglobulins are found in a wide spectrum of disorders but are often transient and without clinical implications. Monoclonal cryoglobulins are usually associated with haematological disorders, whereas mixed cryoglobulins are found in many infectious and systemic disorders. So called essential mixed cryoglobulinaemia shows a striking association with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (> 90%). It is a systemic vasculitis (leucocytoclastic vasculitis) with cutaneous and multiple visceral organ involvement. Chronic HCV infection can lead to a constellation of autoimmune and neoplastic disorders. In this review, the aetiology, diagnosis, disease heterogeneity, and treatment of cryoglobulinaemia are discussed.

  • cryoglobulins
  • mixed cryoglobulinaemia
  • vasculitis
  • hepatitis C virus
  • autoimmunity
  • lymphoma
  • cancer
  • APAAP, alkaline phosphatase anti-alkaline phosphatase
  • B-CLL, B cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma
  • BCL, B cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • ELISA, enzyme linked immunosorbent assay
  • Ig, immunoglobulin
  • LAC, low antigen content
  • MC, mixed cryoglobulinaemia
  • HBV, hepatitis B virus
  • HCV, hepatitis C virus
  • Ic, immunocytoma
  • MLDUS, monotypic lymphoproliferative disorder of undetermined significance
  • PCR, polymerase chain reaction
  • RF, rheumatoid factor

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