Serum free light chain analysis: persisting limitations with new kids on the block

Lieve Van Hoovels, Martine Vercammen, Louis Nevejan, Margot Cornette, Pieter-Jan Briers, Dries Deeren, Jan Van Droogenbroeck, Karel Fostier, Dieter De Smet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Serum free light chain (sFLC) measurements have inherent analytical limitations impacting sFLC clinical interpretation. We evaluated analytical and diagnostic performance of three polyclonal sFLC assays on four analytical platforms.

METHODS: sFLC concentration was measured using Diazyme FLC assays (Diazyme) on cobas c501/c503 analyzer (Roche); Freelite assays (The Binding Site) on Optilite analyzer (The Binding Site) and cobas c501 analyzer and Sebia FLC ELISA assays (Sebia) on AP22 ELITE analyzer (DAS). Imprecision, linearity, method comparison vs. Freelite/Optilite, antigen excess detection and reference value verification were assessed. Diagnostic performance was compared on 120 serum samples and on follow-up samples of five patients with κ and λ monoclonal gammopathy.

RESULTS: Method comparison showed excellent correlation with Freelite/Optilite method for all assays. A large proportional negative bias was shown for both Sebia κ and λ ELISA and a significant positive proportional bias for λ in the low (<10 mg/L) Freelite/cobas c501 method. Clinically relevant underestimation of κ sFLC levels due to antigen excess was shown for 7% of each Diazyme/cobas application and for 11 and 32.1% of λ sFLC assay of respectively Diazyme/cobas and Sebia/AP22. sFLC reference values revealed application specific. Cohen's κ values were (very) good for κ sFLC but only moderate to good for λ sFLC. In 4/10 follow-up patients, significant differences in clinical interpretation between sFLC assays were noticed.

CONCLUSIONS: Important analytical limitations remain for all sFLC applications. Differences in reference values and diagnostic performance hamper interchangeability of sFLC assays. Assay specific sFLC decision guidelines are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1440-1448
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2022


  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin Light Chains
  • Immunoglobulin kappa-Chains
  • Immunoglobulin lambda-Chains
  • Paraproteinemias/diagnosis

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