Abnormal Protein Production in Cats

PetMD Editorial
September 30, 2009
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Paraproteinemia in Cats

Gamma globulins, or immunoglobulins, are part of the body's antibody response to fighting infections. They are a class of blood protein produced by plasma cell, a type of white blood cell; their purpose: to identify and neutralize invading bacteria and viruses.

In paraproteinemia, abnormal paraproteins (proteins in the blood or urine) or M components are produced by a single clone of plasma cells. Such production of abnormal proteins is commonly seen in plasma cell tumors and in some other types of tumors, as well as in plasma cell myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. It is rare in cats, but when it does occur, it is usually in older cats.

Symptoms and Types

  • Generalized weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Lameness
  • Nose bleeds
  • Blindness
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Seizures
  • Memory loss

Causes

  • Cancers
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Viral Infections
  • Exposure to carcinogens (e.g., paints or solvents)

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your cat's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have led to this condition, such as infections, or contact with carcinogenic substances. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination, including routine laboratory testing. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Blood testing may reveal anemia, abnormally low levels of leukocytes or white blood cells (leukopenia), or abnormally low levels of platelets (thrombocytopenia).

A biochemistry profile may show abnormally high levels of proteins in the blood, low levels of albumin (a type of protein), abnormally high levels of calcium (hypercalcemia), and high levels of urea and creatinine in the blood. The urinalysis may show the presence of protein in the urine (proteinuria). More specific testing will also be conducted to diagnose various diseases.

Thoracic and abdominal X-rays will be taken to identify where lymphoma (cancer) is present. A sample of bone marrow may be taken, which will reveal more details associated with this disease. Similarly, samples from affected lymph nodes will also be taken to identify the type of cancer cells or infectious agents that are attacking the body.

Treatment

If your cat is diagnosed with paraproteinemia and associated cancer, treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or any other remedies recommended by your veterinary oncologist. Antibiotic therapy may also be conducted to treat underlying bacterial infections, if present.

Living and Management

Follow your veterinarian's guidelines for chemotherapy medication at home, as these drugs are potentially toxic and should only be used under strict guidance from a veterinary oncologist.