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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Gamma heavy chain disease

Other Names for this Disease
  • Franklin disease
  • Gamma heavy chain deposition disease
  • IgG heavy chain disease
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Your Question

My mother has been diagnosed with gamma heavy chain disease. How can this disease be treated? Several members of my family have autoimmune diseases like those that may be associated with gamma heavy chain disease. Can this condition be prevented? 

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is gamma heavy chain disease?

Gamma heavy chain disease is characterized by the abnormal production of antibodies.[1] Antibodies are made up of light chains and heavy chains. In this disorder, the heavy chain of the gamma antibody (IgG) is overproduced by the body.  Gamma heavy chain disease mainly affects older adults and is similar to aggressive malignant (cancerous) lymphoma.[2] However, some people with this disorder have no symptoms. People with symptoms may respond to chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids, and radiation therapy.[3] Approximately one-third of individuals with gamma heavy chain disease are also diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.[1]
Last updated: 7/25/2010

What are the symptoms of gamma heavy chain disease?

The severity of symptoms varies widely among people with gamma heavy chain disease. Symptoms include, fever, mild anemia, difficulty swallowing (dysphagia), recurrent upper respiratory infections, and enlarged liver and spleen (hepatosplenomegaly).[1]
Last updated: 7/25/2010

What causes gamma heavy chain disease? 

The causes or risk factors for gamma heavy chain disease are not known.[1]
Last updated: 7/25/2010

How might gamma heavy chain disease be treated?

People with symptoms may respond to chemotherapy drugs, corticosteroids, and radiation therapy.[2][3] Commonly used chemotherapeutic agents include cyclophosphamide, prednisone, vincristine, chlorambucil and doxorubicin. Patients are most commonly treated and followed by oncologists and/or hematologists.[1]

Additional information about treatment of gamma heavy chain disease can be found through PubMed, a searchable database of biomedical journal articles. Although not all of the articles are available for free online, most articles listed in PubMed have a summary available. To obtain the full article, contact a medical/university library or your local library for interlibrary loan. You can also order articles online through the publisher's Web site. Using "gamma heavy chain disease [ti] AND treatment" as your search term should help you locate articles. Use the advanced search feature to narrow your results. Click here to view a search.

Last updated: 7/25/2010

Can gamma heavy chain disease be prevented?

We were unable to find any information which indicates that gamma heavy chain disease can be prevented. Individuals with a family history of this condition or a personal history of an associated autoimmune disorder should inform their healthcare provider so that their health can be appropriately monitored. 
Last updated: 7/25/2010