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Hyper-Alpha-2-Macroglobulinemia in Narcotic Addicts

NABEEL F. ADHAM, M.D.; MOON K. SONG, Ph.D.; and BONAVENTURE F. ENG, M.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to Nabeel F. Adham, M.D.; Sepulveda VA Hospital; 16111 Plummer Street; Sepulveda, CA 91343.


Los Angeles, California


© 1978 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1978;88(6):793-795. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-88-6-793
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Significant increases of serum α-2-macroglobulin (α-2-M) were detected in narcotic addicts presenting at a methadone treatment center. The mean α-2-M level was 341 ± 14 mg/dl compared with 231 ± 8 mg/dl in normal persons (p < 0.01). In a comparable group of alcoholics with laboratory evidence of hepatic dysfunction the mean α-2-M level was 208 ± 10 mg/dl. Although the serum immunoglobulin M content was also substantially elevated in the narcotic-addict group, no correlation was obtained between the serum content of this protein and α-2-M. Similarly, no correlation between α-2-M level and serum zinc content was observed. When the values of the trypsin-binding activity of serum measured in 13 addicts, 15 alcoholics with laboratory evidence of hepatic dysfunction, and 16 normal subjects were plotted against the amount of α-2-M measured in the same subjects, a linear correlation was obtained between trypsin-binding activity and α-2-M. Thus, the significantly increased serum trypsin-binding activity observed in the addicts is that which might be expected if normal α-2-M is being accumulated in large amounts as a result of increased macroglobulin synthesis.

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