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January 1998

Dermatological Uses of High-Dose Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(1):80-86. doi:10.1001/archderm.134.1.80

High-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (hdIVIg) is increasingly used to treat a range of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The current dermatological uses of hdIVIg include the treatment of dermatomyositis and the autoimmune bullous disorders, epidermolysis bullosa acquisita, pemphigoid, and pemphigus. Numerous immunomodulatory mechanisms for hdIVIg have been proposed, and they are discussed alongside treatment protocols and adverse effects. Increasing use of this therapy has helped to establish its excellent safety record, without the many adverse effects of steroids and other immunosuppressive agents. This safety record makes hdIVIg an attractive therapeutic option; however, in view of the time required to administer the infusions, the cost, and the urgent need for controlled trials of hdIVIg in patients with specific dermatological disorders such as pemphigus, patients must be carefully selected. Unfortunately, current dermatological uses of hdIVIg have been limited to either uncontrolled trials or anecdotal case reports, except for a single controlled trial of hdIVIg as adjunctive therapy in patients with dermatomyositis, which documented a significant benefit. Further trials in dermatomyositis should be established to confirm these data and to clarify the dose and frequency of therapy required for patients with dermatomyositis. When using hdIVIg, liaison between the dermatologist and the immunologist is helpful because it allows the use of both the nursing and the medical expertise of an existing immunotherapy unit. If appropriate, the patient may be entered into an hdIVIg home therapy training program, such as the one that exists for primary immunodeficiency and some neurologic indications, with clear benefits in quality of life and inpatient costs.