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Cryoglobulin, HCV, Cryoprecipitate and Rheumatoid Factor
Cryoglobulins are immunoglobulins that precipitate in serum at temperatures below 37°C and resolubilize upon warming. The clinical syndrome of cryoglobulinemia usually includes purpura, weakness, and arthralgia, but the underlying disease may also contribute other symptoms. Blood samples for cryoglobulin are collected, transported, clotted and spun at 37°C, before the precipitate is allowed to form when serum is stored at 4°C in a Wintrobe tube for at least seven days. The most critical and confounding factor affecting the cryoglobulin test is when the preanalytical phase is not fully completed at 37°C. The easiest way to quantify cryoglobulins is the cryocrit estimate. However, this approach has low accuracy and sensitivity. Furthermore, the precipitate should be resolubilized by warming to confirm that it is truly formed of cryoglobulins. The characterization of cryoglobulins requires the precipitate is several times washed, before performing immunofixation, a technique by which cryoglobulins can be classified depending on the characteristics of the detected immunoglobulins. These features imply a pathogenic role of these molecules which are consequently associated with a wide range of symptoms and manifestations. According to the Brouet classification, Cryoglobulins are grouped into three types by the immunochemical properties of immunoglobulins in the cryoprecipitate. The aim of this paper is to review the major aspects of cryoglobulinemia and the laboratory techniques used to detect and characterize cryoglobulins, taking into consideration the presence and consequences of cryoglobulinemia in Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection.
ANNA LINDA ZIGNEGO