Purpose of review
Cryoglobulins (CG) are immunoglobulins that precipitate in the cold, and dissolve at 37°C. In vivo, in cold exposed tissues and organs, they can induce vasculitis and occlusive vasculopathy after deposition on vascular endothelium under low temperature and high concentration conditions. Clinical manifestations are cutaneous (purpura, ulcers, vasomotor symptoms, and livedo reticularis), rheumatological (arthralgia and arthritis), and peripheral neuropathy (paresthesia and pain in the lower limbs). In profound organs such as the kidneys, CG deposition is less temperature-dependent, favored by local protein and anion concentrations, and can lead to glomerulonephritis. This review will focus on cryoglobulinemic vasculitis and vascular lesion, and their diagnosis.
The mechanisms of vascular lesions of pathogenic CG in function of CG type and their characteristics are better defined. Optimal conditions for CG detection are critical. The importance of looking for underlying diseases, especially hepatitis C virus status in mixed CG, is reminded.
A decision diagram for CG vasculitis diagnosis based on clinical and biological parameters is proposed.