Overview

Cryoglobulins are abnormal proteins in the blood. If you have cryoglobulinemia (kry-o-glob-u-lih-NEE-me-uh), these proteins may clump together at temperatures below 98.6 F (37 C). These gelatinous protein clumps can impede your blood circulation, which can damage your skin, joints, nerves and organs — particularly your kidneys and liver.

Symptoms usually come and go, and may include:

  • Skin lesions. Most people with cryoglobulinemia develop purplish skin lesions on their legs. In some cases, leg ulcers also occur.
  • Joint pain. Symptoms resembling rheumatoid arthritis are common in cryoglobulinemia.
  • Peripheral neuropathy. Cryoglobulinemia can damage the nerves at the tips of your fingers and toes, causing numbness and other problems.

Different types of cryoglobulinemia have been associated with hepatitis C infection, certain cancers of the blood and autoimmune diseases. Treatment focuses on controlling these underlying diseases and managing symptoms.

Cryoglobulinemia care at Mayo Clinic

Jan. 30, 2018
References
  1. Hochberg MC, et al. Cryoglobulinemia. In: Rheumatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2017.
  2. Ferri FF. Cryoglobulinemia. In: Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2018. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier; 2018. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Dec. 7, 2017.
  3. AskMayoExpert. Cryoglobulinemia. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2017.
  4. Muchtar E, et al. How I treat cryoglobulinemia. Blood. 2017;129:289.
  5. Fervenza FC, et al. Treatment of the mixed cryoglobulinemia syndrome. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 11, 2017.
  6. Fridey JL, et al. Therapeutic apheresis (plasma exchange or cytapheresis): Indications and technology. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 11, 2017.
  7. Gertz MA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 13, 2017.