The neuropathies of Waldenström's Macroglobulinemia (WM) and IgM-MGUS

Christopher J. Klein, Joon Shik Moon, Michelle L. Mauermann, Steven R. Zeldenrust, Yanhong Wu, Angela Dispenzieri, Peter J. Dyck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Background: Neuropathy is common in Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (WM, an IgM-associated lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma) and in IgM-monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (IgM-MGUS). Paraneoplastic or paraimmune mechanisms are thought to be involved in the pathogenesis of these neuropathies. Attempts at distinguishing WM and IgM-MGUS neuropathies are lacking especially among bone marrow (BM) confirmed patients. Methods: Retrospective analyses were performed on BM confirmed WM (N=30) and IgM-MGUS (N=73) neuropathy patients with neurologic assessments and hematologic features. Results: The presence of anemia and quantity of IgM monoclonal protein were significantly greater in WM. Based on multiple neurologic assessments differences were not found for: 1) length of time from neurologic symptom onset to evaluation; 2) chief complaint of painless loss of feeling in the feet, Romberg's sign and tremor; and 3) clinical motor, sensory and reflex abnormalities. Autonomic testing was normal in both diseases. Using nerve conduction (NCS) criteria for demyelination, 62% of IgM-MGUS and 27% of WM met this criteria (p=0.013). IgM MGUS patients had greater terminal conduction slowing by ulnar residual latency calculation (<0.01). The degree of axonal loss as measured by summated compound muscle action potentials and available nerve biopsy was not significantly different between diseases. Conclusion: Although WM and IgM-MGUS must be distinguished for hematologic prognosis and treatment, clinical neuropathy presentations of WM and IgM-MGUS are similar and likely related to comparable axonal loss in both conditions. Despite these similarities, evidence of demyelination was found by electrophysiologic studies much more commonly in IgM-MGUS. This difference may reflect varied immune mechanism(s) in the two disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-295
Number of pages7
JournalCanadian Journal of Neurological Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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