Plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulins: mechanism of action in immune-mediated neuropathies

J Neuroimmunol. 2011 Feb;231(1-2):61-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2010.09.015. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


Immune-mediated neuropathies are a heterogeneous group of peripheral nerve disorders, which are classified by time course, clinical pattern, affected nerves and pathological features. Plasma exchange (PE) and intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIg) are mainstays in the treatment of immune-mediated neuropathies. Of all treatments currently used, IVIg has probably the widest application range in immune-mediated neuropathies and efficacy has been well documented in several randomized controlled trials for Guillain-Barré syndrome and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Beneficial effects of IVIg have also been proven for multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN). Likewise, PE is an established treatment for GBS and CIDP, whereas it is considered to be ineffective in MMN. Different mechanisms of action are sought to be responsible for the immunemodulatory effect of PE and IVIg in autoimmune disorders. Some of those might be important for immune-mediated neuropathies, while others are probably negligible. The aim of this review is to summarize the recent advances in elucidating disease-specific mechanisms of actions of PE and IVIg in the treatment of immune-mediated neuropathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / administration & dosage*
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use*
  • Plasma Exchange / methods*
  • Polyneuropathies / drug therapy
  • Polyneuropathies / immunology*
  • Polyneuropathies / therapy*


  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous