Objective: To test the clinical response of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) patients to intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg), and whether the clinical response of IVIg treatment in SLE is accompanied by modification of SLE-associated autoantibodies/antibodies (Abs) and complement levels.
Methods: Twenty SLE patients were treated with high-dose (2 g/kg) IVIg monthly, in a 5-d schedule. Each patient received between 1-8 treatment courses. They were evaluated for the clinical response, Systemic Lupus Activity Measure (SLAM) score before and after IVIg, levels of antinuclear antibody (ANA), dsDNA (double-stranded DNA), SS-A or SS-B, ENA (extractable nuclear antigens), C3 and C4 levels before and after the treatment, and before and after each treatment course.
Results: A beneficial clinical response following IVIg treatment was noted in 17 out of 20 patients (85%). Few clinical manifestations responded more to treatment: arthritis, fever, thrombocytopenia, and neuropsychiatric lupus. In 9 patients evaluated before and after IVIg, mean SLAM score decreased from 19. 3+/-4.7 to 4+/-2.9 (P<0.0001). There was a tendency towards abnormal levels of complement and Abs before IVIg courses among the treatment responders compared with the non-responders, and similarly the former tended to have normalization of their abnormal levels more than the latter. These differences were found statistically significant only with respect to C4 and SS-A or SS-B levels before IVIg courses.
Conclusion: IVIg has a high response rate among SLE patients. A combination of clinical manifestations, Abs and complement levels may aid in the future in predicting who among SLE patients will benefit more from IVIg treatment.