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Autoimmun Rev. 2013 May;12(7):768-73. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2013.01.002. Epub 2013 Jan 20.

A combination therapy protocol of plasmapheresis, intravenous immunoglobulins and betamethasone to treat anti-Ro/La-related congenital atrioventricular block. A case series and review of the literature.

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Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, University of Padua, Padua, Italy.



The aim of this report was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a combined treatment protocol used to treat 2nd and 3rd degree anti-Ro/La-related congenital atrioventricular block (CAVB).


Six consecutive women diagnosed with 2nd degree (three cases) or 3rd degree block (three cases) between 2009 and 2011 referred to our outpatient clinic underwent a combination therapy protocol composed of weekly plasmapheresis, fortnightly 1g/kg intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) and daily betamethasone (4mg/day) throughout pregnancy. IVIG (1g/kg) treatment in the neonates was begun at birth and administered every fifteen days until passive maternal antibodies became undetectable.


The fetuses affected with 2nd degree block (cases 1, 2 and 3) reverted to a normal atrioventricular conduction after combined therapy, while those with a 3rd degree block remained stable (case 4), showed an increase in the ventricular rate (case 5) or an improvement in cardiac function (case 6). None of the fetuses with 3rd degree CAVB had other cardiac complications such as cardiomyopathy or fetal hydrops. The follow-up of the children affected with 2nd degree CAVB revealed a complete regression of the block in cases 1 and 3, and no signs of relevant worsening in case 2. The infants affected with 3rd degree block (cases 4, 5, and 6) remained stable and until now only one has required a pacemaker at the age of 10months.


If these results are confirmed by large-scale studies, this protocol could lead to improved outcomes in the treatment of this devastating disease.

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