[Skip to Navigation]
February 10, 1984

The Genetics of Antibody Production: Clinical Implications

Author Affiliations

From Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1984;251(6):774-787. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340300066034

IN THE 1840s, Dr Henry Bence Jones published a description of an unusual protein found in the urine of a patient with a disease that was to become known as multiple myeloma or plasmacytoma.1 (See glossary on page 787.) These "Bence Jones proteins" are now known to consist of the light chains of immunoglobulins and are but one of many protein abnormalities associated with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma results from the malignant proliferation of a clone of plasma cells that produce intact immunoglobulins or immunoglobulin fragments or both. The distinguishing feature of multiple myeloma is its association with a highly homogeneous population of immunoglobulin molecules (ie, monoclonal) rather than highly heterogeneous populations that are found in normal persons. Immunoglobulins are the most heterogeneous family of biologic molecules known. Plasmacytomas also occur in a variety of experimental animals, most notably in the mouse where the disease can readily be induced