Effect of intravenous immunoglobulin on steroid consumption in patients with severe asthma: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 May;103(5 Pt 1):810-5. doi: 10.1016/s0091-6749(99)70424-0.


Background: There is a significant group of patients with severe asthma who require chronic use of systemic steroids for control of their disease. These patients are at risk for severe side effects from oral steroids. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) has immunomodulatory properties, and a few open-label trials have suggested its possible benefit in individuals with severe asthma.

Objective: This study was designed to assess the potential benefit of IVIG as a steroid-sparing agent in patients with severe asthma.

Methods: Thirty-eight immunocompetent steroid-requiring patients with severe asthma were randomly enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of IVIG.

Results: Of the 38 patients enrolled, 28 patients completed the study. A significant reduction in oral steroid requirement was observed in both the IVIG-treated (n = 16) and the placebo-treated (n = 12) patients. Further exploration of the results showed that IVIG, but not placebo, had a significant steroid-sparing effect in patients requiring high doses of oral steroids (ie, >2000 mg in the year before the study). Within this subgroup, IVIG treatment (n = 9) resulted in a significant decrease in oral steroid requirement, with a median of 16.4 mg/day during the pretreatment period to 3 mg/day during the treatment phase (P =. 0078). No significant decrease in oral steroid requirement was observed in placebo-treated patients (n = 8) within this subgroup. Objective and subjective parameters of the patients' asthma were unchanged in spite of the steroid tapering achieved in the group treated with IVIG.

Conclusion: IVIG may be a useful steroid-sparing agent in patients with severe asthma requiring high doses of oral steroids.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / metabolism*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Steroids / administration & dosage
  • Steroids / metabolism*


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Steroids