Performance comparison of capillary and agarose gel electrophoresis for the identification and characterization of monoclonal immunoglobulins

American Journal of Clinical Pathology
Christopher R McCuddenDavid G Grenache


The objective of this study was to compare gel- and capillary-based serum protein electrophoresis methods to identify and characterize monoclonal immunoglobulins (M proteins). Five reviewers interpreted 149 consecutively ordered serum specimens following agarose gel electrophoresis (AGE), capillary electrophoresis (CE), immunofixation electrophoresis (IFE), and subtraction immunotyping (IT). As a screening test for detecting M proteins, AGE and CE displayed similar sensitivity (91% and 92%, respectively). CE was less specific (74%) than AGE (81%). An analysis of interinterpreter agreement revealed that interpretations were more consistent using gel-based methods than capillary-based methods, with 80% of the gel interpretations being in complete (5/5) agreement compared with 67% of the capillary interpretations. After implementing the capillary-based methods, the number of tests per reportable result increased (from 1.58 to 1.73). CE is an analytically suitable alternative to AGE, but laboratories implementing it will need to continue IFE testing to characterize all M proteins detected by CE.


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