Overview

Cryoglobulins are abnormal proteins in the blood. If you have cryoglobulinemia (kry-oh-glob-u-lih-NE-me-uh), these proteins clump together in the cold. This causes the plasma to become thick like maple syrup and deposit clumps in blood vessels.

Cryoglobulinemia tends to be a condition that occurs in people over 50 years of age. Most people with cryoglobulinemia won't experience symptoms. But if you have moderate to severe disease, you may experience blocked arteries and damage to your skin, joints, muscles, nerves, kidneys and liver. The course of the disease will vary, depending on the severity. Symptoms may come and go. For some people, cold temperatures may cause flare-ups.

No one knows exactly what causes cryoglobulinemia. Depending on the type you have, it may be associated with one of a number of conditions, such as hepatitis C infection, multiple myeloma and autoimmune disease.

Cryoglobulinemia care at Mayo Clinic

Dec. 17, 2014
References
  1. Greer JP, et al. Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology. 13th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2014.
  2. AskMayoExpert. Cryoglobulins. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  3. Bryce A, et al. Shining a warm light on cryoglobulinemia. Oncology. 2013;27:1116. http://www.cancernetwork.com/hematologic-malignancies/shining-warm-light-cryoglobulinemia. Accessed Sept. 24, 2014.
  4. Dammacco F, et al. Therapy for hepatitis C virus — Related cryoglobulinemic vasculitis. New England Journal of Medicine. 2013;369:1035.
  5. Gertz MA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 8, 2011.
  6. Ramos-Casals M, et al. The cryoglobulinemias. The Lancet 2012;379:348.
  7. Gertz MA. Baby, it's cold outside! Blood. 2012;119:5943.
  8. Retamozo S, et al. Cryoglobulinemic disease. Oncology. 2013:27:1098. http://www.cancernetwork.com/oncology-journal/cryoglobulinemic-disease. Accessed Oct. 14, 2014.