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Also known as

B2M, Thymoxin, B2M, β2-Microglobulin

The Beta-2 Microglobulin test is utilized to assess the severity and progression of certain cancers, including multiple myeloma and some lymphomas. It may also be ordered to monitor people who have been exposed to cadmium, kidney damage, and disorders.
The Beta 2 Microglobulin test is ordered when you have been diagnosed with certain cancers or multiple myeloma. It also aids in the monitoring of disease prognosis, activity, and treatment. In addition, if you have symptoms related to kidney dysfunction, the test may be ordered.
The test involves obtaining blood, urine, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples.  The blood test requires a sample drawn from a vein in your arm. In some cases, a 24-hour urine sample is required, and in rare cases, a cerebrospinal fluid sample is needed. This is done using a procedure called a lumbar puncture or spinal tap.
No specific preparation is necessary for this test.
Beta-2 microglobulin is a protein found on the surface of various cells in the body, including B lymphocytes and tumor cells. It is released into the blood and other body fluids. Elevated levels of this protein are associated with conditions that increase cell production, destruction, or stimulate an immune response. This test measures the presence of beta-2 microglobulin in the blood. Beta-2 microglobulin is present in high levels in the blood with cancers like multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and other inflammatory infections and disorders like HIV and CMV. Since the level of beta-2 microglobulin rises with blood cell cancers, it is useful as a tumor marker. ‘ Elevated levels of beta-2 microglobulin in cerebrospinal fluid may suggest brain involvement in individuals with blood cancer.  Elevated levels are also associated with chronic disorders like multiple sclerosis and viral infections. On the other hand, in the kidneys, the test passes via the glomeruli, which are the blood filtering units, and is absorbed into the renal proximal tubules, which are structures that reabsorb water, proteins, minerals, and other substances. In general, small amounts of B2M are detectable in the urine, but when these structures get damaged, the B2M concentrations increase because the ability to reabsorb the protein goes down.
The test is used as a tumor marker for people that have blood cell cancers. While it does not diagnose a specific disease, it has been linked to a certain amount of cancer present in the body, also known as tumor burden. This is used by the doctor to give additional information about someone’s prognosis. The test is ordered to gauge the severity and stage of multiple myeloma, the prognosis of lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. It may also aid the evaluation of disease activity and the effectiveness of treatment. Sometimes a CSF sample is required to see if there is a central nervous system involvement. High levels of beta-2 microglobulin are linked to larger tumor masses and reduced kidney function in patients with myeloma. It is also linked to worse prognosis and higher disease stages.
The test is ordered during the initial work-up of a patient that has multiple myeloma. The test helps stage the disease and also evaluates the degree of activity of cancer. It also aids in gauging the effectiveness of treatment. It also aids in charting the prognosis. If interference with the nervous system is suspected, a CSF B2M may be ordered. In terms of kidney disease, if an individual is showing symptoms of kidney dysfunction, the test may be ordered. Signs include:
  1. Swelling or puffiness, especially near the eyes or in the face, wrists, or ankles
  2. Foamy, bloody, pink, or brownish urine
  3. Protein in the urine
  4. Fatigue and weakness
  5. Nausea
A urine B2M test is ordered to monitor patients who have had a kidney transplant or have been exposed to cadmium. Patients on dialysis might be directed to get it done to test for DRA, where excess B2M is found in the blood and the osteoarticular structure.
If a patient has higher levels of beta-2 microglobulin in the urine or the blood, it is an indication that there is some kind of issue. However, it does not provide any kind of diagnosis. What it reflects is disease activity and the presence of cancer. Patients that have lymphoma or multiple myeloma may have a poorer prognosis if the amount of B2M present is high. If the test is being used to monitor treatment, lower levels over a period of time indicate that the treatment is going well. Low levels of B2M are normal. When related to kidney disease, high levels of B2M in the blood and lower levels in the urine point to glomerular dysfunction in the kidney. If it is low in the blood and high in the urine, the disease is linked to renal tubule damage. High levels of B2M are linked to dialysis-related amyloidosis in dialysis patients. It is also linked to cardiovascular disease and death in patients with dialysis and kidney disease. Higher levels of B2M in the urine after a kidney transplant may point to kidney rejection.

Our clinical experts continually monitor the health and medical content posted on CURA4U, and we update our blogs and articles when new information becomes available. Last reviewed by Dr. Tayyab Saeed Akhter on August 15 th, 2023.

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