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Basic principles of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment

An Erratum to this article was published on 01 February 2008


The original rationale for the therapeutic application of immunoglobulins was prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. With the description of agammaglobulinemia, substitution therapy became the primary indication for the use of immunoglobulins. Limitations and side effects of the intramuscular administration of immunoglobulins led to the development of preparations for intravenous use (IVIg). In the early 1980s an immunomodulatory effect of IVIg was described. Since then, the efficacy of IVIg has been established in controlled trials for diseases like idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, Kawasaki disease, Guillain-Barré syndrome, dermatomyositis, and many others. There is a large body of evidence that IVIg can modulate an immune reaction at the level of T cells, B cells, and macrophages, interferes with antibody production and degradation, modulates the complement cascade, and has effects on the cytokine network. However, the precise mechanism of action is not yet clear.

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Correspondence to Martin Stangel.

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Stangel, M., Pul, R. Basic principles of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment. J Neurol 253, v18–v24 (2006).

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Key words

  • intravenous immunoglobulins
  • IVIg
  • mechanism of action
  • immunomodulation
  • immune treatment