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Am J Ther. 2019 Sep/Oct;26(5):570-582. doi: 10.1097/MJT.0000000000000778.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy in Refractory Autoimmune Dysautonomias: A Retrospective Analysis of 38 Patients.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, Denver University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO.
2
Department of Neurology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, VA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has recognized efficacy in autoimmune peripheral nerve disorders, but there has been limited study of the use of IVIG in autoimmune dysautonomias.

STUDY QUESTION:

To determine the efficacy and safety of IVIG in patients with disabling, refractory autoimmune dysautonomias, including patients with postural tachycardia syndrome and gastrointestinal dysmotility.

STUDY DESIGN:

Patients with one or more autonomic disorder(s) and persistent serological evidence for autoimmunity who were unable to work or attend school despite usual treatments for dysautonomia were treated with IVIG for at least 3 months at a dose of at least 1 gm/kg monthly.

MEASURES AND OUTCOMES:

Outcome measures included the composite autonomic symptom scale 31 survey and a functional ability score.

RESULTS:

There were 38 patients, 84% female and mean age of 28.4 years. Of patients, 83.5% improved on IVIG as defined by at least 20% improvement in the composite autonomic symptom scale 31 and/or functional ability score. The mean pretreatment functional ability score was 21% (mostly bedridden), which improved to a mean of 74% (nearing able to return to work/school) for responsive patients after at least 1 year of IVIG. The mean time to the first sign of response was 5.3 weeks. There were no serious adverse events. The Mayo autoimmune dysautonomia panel antibodies and traditional Sjögren antibodies were present in only 13% and 8% of patients, respectively, but antiphospholipid antibodies and novel Sjögren antibodies were present in 76% and 42% of patients, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is increasing evidence that IVIG is safe and effective in a subset of patients with autonomic disorders and evidence for autoimmunity. A 4-month IVIG trial should be considered in severely affected patients who are refractory to lifestyle and pharmacological therapies. Antiphospholipid antibodies and novel Sjögren antibodies are often present in these patients and correlate with a high response rate to IVIG.

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