Immunoglobulins are proteins produced by the immune system that help fight infection. IVIG or intravenous immunoglobulin is a plasma product that is formed by taking antibodies from about 20,000 healthy blood donors. This forms a collection of "Y" shaped antibodies called IgG.
IVIG was originally intended as replacement therapy for patients with X-linked Agammaglobulinemia and other primary immunodeficiency diseases. The FDA has approved the use of IVIG for the following six diseases:
- Primary Immunodeficiencies
- Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia
- Kawasaki Disease
- Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
- Chronic B-Cell Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Pediatric HIV Type 1 Infection
Over the last several years, the uses of IVIG have been expanding. It is an effective treatment for secondary immunodeficiency diseases, as well as a host of auto-immune and inflammatory disorders, such as CIDP. Also, there has been promising results in the efficacy of IVIG in the treatment of Autism.
IVIG is administered intravenously over several hours. The treatment is usually repeated as ordered by the physician. Body weight and specifics of the disease process are used in determining the dosage. The length of the infusion will also vary depending on the amount of IVIG administered per day and also the patient's tolerance of IVIG. The infusion rate will start slowly and be gradually increased over the course of the infusion. A typical infusion of IVIG can take up to six hours. Most patients require infusions every two to four weeks depending on their response to therapy.