Intravenous immunoglobulin: properties, mode of action and practical use in dermatology

Acta Derm Venereol. 2007;87(3):206-18. doi: 10.2340/00015555-0249.


Since they were first administered to patients with antibody deficiency disorders over 50 years ago, human intravenous immunoglobulin preparations have been used successfully to treat a rapidly increasing number of autoimmune and inflammatory disorders, among which are a series of cutaneous autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. These include dermatomyositis, Kawasaki's disease, a number of autoimmune bullous diseases, severe adverse drug reactions, and other autoimmune and/or allergic conditions, such as atopic dermatitis. Although only a minority of these indications (dermatomyositis, Kawasaki's disease) are officially registered or based on double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies, the observed efficacy and safety profile of currently available intravenous immunoglobulin sometimes makes this a treatment of choice for initiation of therapy or for replacement of more toxic alternatives, such as systemic immunosuppressive medications. The increasing use of intravenous immunoglobulin has been associated with further understanding of its mechanism(s) of action, clinical manipulation and associated side-effects, as well as the introduction of improved or new types of intravenous immunoglobulin. This paper reviews the current knowledge of the mode of action of intravenous immunoglobulin, its reported therapeutic effects in cutaneous disease, its mode of administration and safety profile, and compares the currently available intravenous immunoglobulin preparations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Interactions
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / economics
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / pharmacology*
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous