Background: Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is a primary immune disorder characterized by antibody deficiency and a decrease in serum IgG and IgA, IgM, or both levels at least 2 SDs below the mean for age and not attributed to other known immunologic disorders. These patients often present with frequent and severe episodes of pneumonia before diagnosis. The standard treatment, intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), has been available for the past 20 years. No large-scale study has compared the incidence of pneumonia in these patients before and after IVIG treatment.
Objective: The aim of this study was to document the effectiveness of intravenous immunoglobulin treatment on the incidence of pneumonia in patients with CVID.
Methods: We performed chart reviews and interviews of patients with laboratory-confirmed CVID seen at our clinical center. The number of episodes of pneumonia was documented before and after treatment with immunoglobulin replacement therapy.
Results: The histories of 50 patients were reviewed (mean current age, 42 +/- 16.3 years; age range, 10-78 years; 20 male and 30 female patients). Forty-two (84%) of the 50 patients with CVID had pneumonia at least once before receiving immunoglobulin treatment, and 11 of 42 of these patients had multiple episodes. After treatment with gamma globulin over a mean period of 6.6 +/- 5.2 years (range, <1-20 years), the number of patients experiencing pneumonia significantly decreased to 11 (22%) of 50. In most cases these patients had pneumonia in the first year of immunoglobulin treatment.
Conclusion: The treatment of CVID with IVIG significantly reduces the incidence of pneumonia.