Elevation of serum immunoglobulin free light chains during the preclinical period of rheumatoid arthritis

Xiaoli Deng, Cynthia S. Crowson, S. Vincent Rajkumar, Angela Dispenzieri, Dirk R. Larson, Terry M. Therneau, Eric L. Matteson, Robert A. Kyle, Jerry A. Katzmann, Sherine E. Gabriel, John M. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Immunoglobulin free light chains (FLC) represent biomarkers of B cell activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and are associated with all-cause mortality in the general population. Our objective was to evaluate the relationships of serum FLC to preclinical disease, RA characteristics, and mortality in RA compared to non-RA subjects. A population-based study in Olmsted County, Minnesota, USA, was performed by crosslinking a large cohort in the general population having available serum FLC measurements with established RA incidence and prevalence cohorts. Serumκ, &lambda and total FLC and their trends relative to RA incidence were compared between RA and non-RA subjects. Regression models were used to determine the associations between FLC, disease characteristics, and mortality, testing for differential effects of FLC on mortality in RA. Among 16,609 subjects, 270 fulfilled the criteria for RA at the time of FLC measurement. Mean total FLC were significantly higher in RA compared to non-RA subjects (4.2 vs 3.3 mg/dl, p < 0.001). FLC became elevated 3-5 years before the clinical onset of RA and remained elevated during followup. Polyclonal FLC were found to predict higher mortality in persons with RA, though elevation to the highest decile had a relatively lower effect on mortality in RA compared to non-RA subjects. Elevation of serum FLC precedes the development of RA and may be useful in monitoring B cell activity and disease progression. FLC are associated with mortality among patients with RA as well as the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-187
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Rheumatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Autoimmunity
  • B cell
  • Biomarkers
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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