Patients with normal serum protein fractions are identified when their serum
protein electrophoretic patterns are similar to that of the normal control with no
observable increase, decrease, or absence of any particular zone.
Hypogammaglobulinemia (agammaglobulinemia) is an immunological deficiency
state characterized by an abnormally low level of generally all classes of gamma
globulin. It is identified by an absent or decreased zone. In this situation, the
patient is not producing immunoglobulins in sufficient quantities to maintain a
normal immune state.
Polyclonal hypergammaglobulinemia is a broad increase in gamma globulins due
to numerous clones of plasma cells producing a heterogeneous group of
immunoglobulins. It is identified by a diffuse increase in the gamma zone. This
condition is not indicative of a specific disease state.
Monoclonal hypergammaglobulinemia follows the unexplained proliferation of a
single clone of immunoglobulin-producing cells. It appears as a narrow, tall spike
in the gamma zone.
Immunoelectrophoresis is a qualitative method that combines electrophoresis and
immunoprecipitation. This technique is especially useful in the identification and
diagnosis of the monoclonal gammopathies. It is a two-stage procedure with the
first step involving the electrophoretic separation of the patient's serum specimen
and normal control. Following electrophoresis, specific antisera are placed in
troughs parallel to the line of the fractionated proteins. The proteins and antisera
diffuse in all directions with immunoprecipitin arcs forming where specific antisera
and corresponding protein antigen meet. Following a staining procedure using a
protein stain, increases or decreases of the individual's immunoglobulins may be
observed by comparing the patient's immunoprecipitin arcs to those of the normal