Skip to content
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Mixed Cryoglobulinemia

    Important
    It is possible that the main title of the report Mixed Cryoglobulinemia is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

    Synonyms

    Disorder Subdivisions

    • Type I Cryoglobulinemia
    • Type II Cryoglobulinemia
    • Type III Cryoglobulinemia
    • Essential Mixed Cryoglobulinemia

    General Discussion

    Summary
    Mixed cryoglobulinemia is a rare disorder characterized by the presence of cryoglobulins in the blood. Cryoglobulins are abnormal proteins that thicken and clump together at cold temperatures, usually below 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (the average human body temperature). However, the exact temperature at which this occurs may vary from one person to another. When these proteins clump together, they can restrict blood flow to joints, muscles, and organs. Eventually, damage or inflammation of affected blood vessels and surrounding tissue can develop, a condition known as vasculitis. Small blood vessels are usually affected, but occasionally larger blood vessels are involved. Common symptoms include skin lesions, joint pain (arthralgia), and weakness, but specific symptoms can vary greatly from one person to another and can potentially involve multiple organ systems. Mixed cryoglobulinemia is believed to be an immune-mediated disorder (in which the immune system response to chronic infection causes damage to various tissues) or an autoimmune disorder (in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissue). Many cases of mixed cryoglobulinemia are associated with chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus. In rare cases, no underlying cause for the disorder can be identified (essential mixed cryoglobulinemia).

    Introduction
    Cryoglobulinemia involves dysfunction of the immune system. The immune system is divided into several components, the combined actions of which are responsible for defending against infectious agents. The T cell system (cell-mediated immune response) contributes to fighting several viruses, some bacteria and yeast and fungi. The B cell system (humoral immune response) fights infection caused by other viruses and bacteria. It does so by secreting immune factors called antibodies (also known as immunoglobulins) into the fluid portion of the blood (serum) and body secretions (e.g. saliva). There are five classes of immunoglobulins (Ig) known as IgA, IgD, IgE, IgG, and IgM. Antibodies can directly kill microorganisms or coat them so they are more easily destroyed by white blood cells. Any substance that triggers a response by the immune system is known as an antigen.

    Cryoglobulinemia is generally broken down in three subtypes. In type I cryoglobulinemia, cryoglobulins are made up of a specific immunoglobulin, usually IgM. Type I cryoglobulinemia is usually associated with an underlying disorder, specifically certain types of cancer. Type II and type III cryoglobulinemia are known as mixed cryoglobulinemia. In these disorders, cryoglobulins are abnormal immune complexes. An immune complex is formed when an antibody attaches to an antigen. Unlike type I cryoglobulinemia, the cryoglobulins in type II and type III contain rheumatoid factor, which is an autoantibody (i.e. an antibody that attacks the body own tissue). The distinction between type II and type III cryoglobulinemia is mostly technical and deals with whether the rheumatoid factor is monoclonal or polyclonal. The clinical pictures of type II and III cryoglobulinemia are similar. This report primarily deals with mixed cryoglobulinemia.

    Resources

    Vasculitis Foundation
    PO Box 28660
    Kansas City, MO 64188
    USA
    Tel: (816)436-8211
    Fax: (816)436-8211
    Tel: (800)277-9474
    Email: vf@vasculitisfoundation.org
    Internet: http://www.vasculitisfoundation.org

    American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc.
    22100 Gratiot Ave.
    Eastpointe, MI 48021
    Tel: (586)776-3900
    Fax: (586)776-3903
    Tel: (800)598-4668
    Email: aarda@aarda.org
    Internet: http://www.aarda.org/

    NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
    P.O. Box 30105
    Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
    Tel: (301)592-8573
    Fax: (301)251-1223
    Email: nhlbiinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov
    Internet: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

    Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center
    PO Box 8126
    Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
    Tel: (301)251-4925
    Fax: (301)251-4911
    Tel: (888)205-2311
    TDD: (888)205-3223
    Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

    Center for Peripheral Neuropathy
    University of Chicago
    5841 South Maryland Ave, MC 2030
    Chicago, IL 60637
    Tel: (773)702-5659
    Fax: (773)702-5577
    Internet: http://peripheralneuropathycenter.uchicago.edu/

    Autoimmune Information Network, Inc.
    PO Box 4121
    Brick, NJ 08723
    Fax: (732)543-7285
    Email: autoimmunehelp@aol.com

    European Society for Immunodeficiencies
    1-3 rue de Chantepoulet
    Geneva, CH 1211
    Switzerland
    Tel: 410229080484
    Fax: 41229069140
    Email: esid@kenes.com
    Internet: http://www.esid.org

    AutoImmunity Community
    Email: moderator@autoimmunitycommunity.org
    Internet: http://www.autoimmunitycommunity.org

    For a Complete Report:

    This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). A copy of the complete report can be downloaded free from the NORD website for registered users. The complete report contains additional information including symptoms, causes, affected population, related disorders, standard and investigational therapies (if available), and references from medical literature. For a full-text version of this topic, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

    The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only. NORD recommends that affected individuals seek the advice or counsel of their own personal physicians.

    It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report

    This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

    For additional information and assistance about rare disorders, please contact the National Organization for Rare Disorders at P.O. Box 1968, Danbury, CT 06813-1968; phone (203) 744-0100; web site www.rarediseases.org or email orphan@rarediseases.org

    Last Updated: 7/18/2013
    Copyright 1992, 2000, 2004, 2013 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

    WebMD Medical Reference from the National Organization for Rare Disorders

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    Hot Topics

    WebMD Video: Now Playing

    Click here to wach video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Which sex is the worst about washing up? Why is it so important? We’ve got the dirty truth on how and when to wash your hands.

    Click here to watch video: Dirty Truth About Hand Washing

    Popular Slideshows & Tools on WebMD

    disciplining a boy
    Types, symptoms, causes.
    fruit drinks
    Eat these to think better.
    embarrassed woman
    Do you feel guilty after eating?
    diabetes supply kit
    Pack and prepare.
    Balding man in mirror
    Treatments & solutions.
    birth control pills
    Which kind is right for you?
    Remember your finger
    Are you getting more forgetful?
    acupuncture needle on shoulder
    10 tips to look and feel good.
    Close up of eye
    12 reasons you're distracted.
    woman biting a big ice cube
    Habits that wreck your teeth.
    pacemaker next to xray
    Treatment options.
    Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer
    Myths and facts.

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

    Thanks!

    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    Women's Health Newsletter

    Find out what women really need.