Background: Serum monoclonal anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein antibodies may be pathogenic in some people with immunoglobulin M (IgM) paraprotein and demyelinating neuropathy. Immunotherapies aimed at reducing the level of these antibodies might be expected to be beneficial. This is an update of a review first published in 2003 and previously updated in 2006.
Objectives: To assess the effects of immunotherapy for IgM anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein paraprotein-associated demyelinating peripheral neuropathy.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register 6 June 2011), CENTRAL (2011, Issue 2), MEDLINE (January 1966 to May 2011) and EMBASE (January 1980 to May 2011) for controlled trials. We also checked bibliographies and contacted authors and experts in the field.
Selection criteria: We included randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials involving participants of any age treated with any type of immunotherapy for anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein antibody-associated demyelinating peripheral neuropathy with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance and of any severity.Our primary outcome measure was change in the Neuropathy Impairment Scale or Modified Rankin Scale at six months after randomisation. Secondary outcome measures were: Neuropathy Impairment Scale or the Modified Rankin Score at 12 months after randomisation; 10-metre walk time, subjective clinical scores and electrophysiological parameters at six and 12 months after randomisation; IgM paraprotein levels and anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein antibody titres at six months after randomisation; and adverse effects of treatments.
Data collection and analysis: The two authors independently selected studies. Two authors independently assessed the risk of bias in included studies.
Main results: We identified seven eligible trials (182 participants), which tested intravenous immunoglobulin, alfa interferon alfa-2a, plasma exchange, cyclophosphamide and steroids, and rituximab. Only two trials, of intravenous immunoglobulin (with 33 participants, including 20 with antibodies against myelin-associated glycoprotein), had comparable interventions and outcomes, but both were short-term trials.There were no clinical or statistically significant benefits of the treatments used on the outcomes predefined for this review, but not all the predefined outcomes were used in every included trial. Intravenous immunoglobulin showed a statistical benefit in terms of improvement in Modified Rankin Scale at two weeks and 10-metre walk time at four weeks. Cyclophosphamide failed to show any benefit in the trial's primary outcome, and showed a barely significant benefit in the primary outcome specified here, but some toxic adverse events were identified. A trial of rituximab was of poor methodological quality with a high risk of bias and a further larger study is awaited. Serious adverse events were few in the other trials.
Authors' conclusions: There is inadequate reliable evidence from trials of immunotherapies in anti-myelin-associated glycoprotein paraproteinaemic neuropathy to form an evidence base supporting any particular immunotherapy treatment. There is very low quality evidence of benefit from rituximab. Large well designed randomised trials of at least six to 12 months duration are required to assess existing or novel therapies, preferably employing unified, consistent, well designed, responsive and valid outcome measures.