1. To examine the effect of charge and molecular size on the renal handling of immunoglobulin light chain, three different human light chains were purified, iodinated and characterized with regard to molecular weight and isoelectric point. The molecular weights were similar, whereas the isoelectric points ranged from markedly cationic to markedly anionic.
2. Renal handling of the light chains was determined in vivo in the Munich–Wistar rat and in vitro in the isolated perfused rat kidney.
3. Significant restriction to the transglomerular passage of all three light chains was evident in the intact kidney, with the most anionic light chain being restricted most while the cationic light chain was restricted least. The charge dependence of filtration of these naturally occurring proteins was, however, much less pronounced than has previously been reported for the synthetic dextrans.
4. Tubular reabsorption of the three light chains was quite variable in the intact kidney and did not appear to be related to molecular charge. In the isolated perfused kidney, once account had been taken of the abnormally high rate of filtration of these proteins, the reabsorption of the three light chains was strikingly similar to that seen in vivo.
5. With these three purified human light chains no marked influence of charge (pI) has been demonstrated in vivo or in vitro, for glomerular restriction or renal tubular reabsorption. Some other properties of human myeloma light chains may determine their renal handling and nephrotoxicity.