AL amyloidosis patients with low amyloidogenic free light chain levels at first diagnosis have an excellent prognosis

Tobias Dittrich, Tilmann Bochtler, Christoph Kimmich, Natalia Becker, Anna Jauch, Hartmut Goldschmidt, Anthony D. Ho, Ute Hegenbart and Stefan O. Schönland

Key Points

  • AL patients with an initial dFLC <50 mg/L represent a distinct clinical subgroup with mostly renal disease and a favorable prognosis.

  • These patients are evaluable for hematologic response including a novel low-dFLC partial response, which predict renal and overall survival.


The difference between involved minus uninvolved serum free light chains (dFLC) has been established as an invaluable hematologic parameter in systemic amyloid light chain (AL) amyloidosis. However, patients with an initial dFLC level <50 mg/L are currently deemed not evaluable for response to therapy. Therefore, we aimed to characterize this subgroup of patients and to define novel hematologic response parameters. We retrospectively analyzed 783 AL patients newly diagnosed at our center between 2002 and 2016. Patients with a dFLC level <50 mg/L showed smaller bone marrow plasmacytosis compared to patients with a dFLC level ≥50 mg/L (7% vs 10%, P < .001), but no significant differences in all analyzed chromosomal aberrations. Cardiac involvement was less frequent (45% vs 80%, P < .001) and less severe (Mayo 2004 stage III: 18% vs 51%, P < .001), whereas kidney involvement was more prevalent (83% vs 53%, P < .001) and proteinuria was higher (7.3 g/L vs 5.0 g/L, P < .001). In multivariate analyses, a dFLC level <50 mg/L appeared to be an independent prognostic factor with respect to overall survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.50, P = .003) and renal survival (HR = 0.56, P = .020). Patients with a dFLC level <50 mg/L showed a higher proportion of complete hematologic response after first-line therapy compared to patients with a dFLC level ≥50 mg/L (39% vs 9%, P < .001). Receiver-operating characteristics analysis identified a low-dFLC partial response (dFLC <10 mg/L for patients with a dFLC between 20 and 50 mg/L), which predicted overall and renal survival already at 3 months after the start of therapy. Importantly, a parallel Italian study validated this new hematologic remission parameter. The outcome of prospective clinical trials might be adversely influenced by exclusion of the favorable clinical subgroup with an initial dFLC <50 mg/L. We propose the appreciation of dFLC in hematologic response assessment for all patients with a baseline dFLC >20 mg/L.

  • Submitted February 7, 2017.
  • Accepted May 23, 2017.
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