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Neurocrit Care. 2010 Feb;12(1):132-43. doi: 10.1007/s12028-009-9274-0. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Immunomodulatory therapies in neurologic critical care.

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Departments of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.



Neurologic disorders with autoimmune dysregulation are commonly encountered in the critical care setting. Frequently encountered diseases include Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis, and encephalitides. Immunomodulatory therapies, including high-dose corticosteroids, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immunoglobulins, are the cornerstone of the treatment of these diseases. Here we review the efficacy and side effects of immunomodulatory therapies commonly utilized in critically ill neurologic patients in the intensive care setting.


Search of Medline, Cochrane databases, and manual review of article bibliographies.


The efficacy of high-dose corticosteroids, plasmapheresis, and intravenous immunoglobulins have been studied extensively in GBS, myasthenia gravis, and demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis and acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis. For these diseases, however, the duration of treatment, dosing regimens, and choices among different therapeutic modalities remain controversial. For many of the other diseases (e.g., encephalitis and status epilepticus of autoimmune etiology) discussed in this review, evidence is limited to small case series.


There is good evidence for the efficacy and tolerability of immunomodulatory therapies in GBS, myasthenia gravis, and acute central nervous system demyelination, though data to establish superiority of one therapeutic regimen over another remains lacking. For most other conditions, the data for immunomodulatory therapies are limited, and further research is required.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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