What is immunoglobulin therapy?


Quick Answer

Immunoglobulin replacement therapy involves the intravenous or subcutaneous administration of purified immunoglobulin from blood donors to patients with certain immunodeficiency diseases, explains the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Immunoglobulins are antibodies found in blood plasma, notes the Immune Deficiency Foundation. There are several types of immunoglobulins, including IgG, IgA, IgD, IgM and IgE, but immunoglobulin therapy replaces mostly the IgG.

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Full Answer

Examples of conditions that immunoglobulin replacement therapy helps treat include X-linked agammaglobulinemia, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome and hyper-IgM syndromes, states the Immune Deficiency Foundation. The replacement immunoglobulin temporarily boosts patients' immune systems, but it is unable to stimulate the body to begin producing the antibodies on its own. Within about three to four weeks, the body uses up approximately half of the administered immunoglobulin, so patients must receive regular doses of the therapy, usually for the rest of their lives.

Patients who receive the immunoglobulin subcutaneously require small doses anywhere from once daily to once per week, explains the Immune Deficiency Foundation. Those who receive the therapy intravenously get larger doses every three to four weeks. Because these patients receive larger doses, there is a high peak level of the immunoglobulin in their bloodstreams at the time of administration and a much lower level right before it is time to receive their next dose. Patients who experience negative side effects from these highs and lows may prefer the subcutaneous route.

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