In multiple myeloma, changes in serum-free immunoglobulin light chains (FLC) are a more rapid indicator of treatment response than intact immunoglobulin due to their shorter serum half-life. The present study analysed the changes in serum FLC after autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (PBSCT) in 19 patients. The majority of myeloma patients (18 of 19) undergoing PBSCT had a rapid fall in FLC concentrations. In all 11 of 19 patients with raised tumor FLC, it fell within 48 h following high-dose melphalan. In patients with monoclonal intact immunoglobulin, the tumor FLC fell quicker (median half-life 4.3 days) than the monoclonal intact immunoglobulin (median half-life 14 days). FLC recovery occurred after (13 of 19) or around the time of neutrophil engraftment (6 of 19). With a median follow up of 220 days post-transplant, 16 of 19 patients have a normal FLC ratio and 3 of 19 have an elevated tumor FLC/abnormal ratio. FLC assays provided a sensitive monitor of changes in tumor and non-tumor plasma cells after PBSCT. This assay is potentially valuable as a marker of chemosensitivity, as an indicator of residual tumor and indicated time to lymphocyte engraftment. Further follow-up is required to ascertain whether differences in the kinetics of FLC responses have any prognostic clinical utility.
- autologous peripheral blood stem cell transplant
- multiple myeloma
- serum-free light chains