Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a pooled preparation of normal IgG obtained from several thousand healthy donors. It is widely used in the immunotherapy of a large number of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The mechanisms of action of IVIG are complex and, as discussed in this review, experimental and clinical data provide an indicator that the therapeutic benefit of IVIG therapy is due to several mutually non-exclusive mechanisms affecting soluble mediators as well as cellular components of the immune system. These mechanisms depend on Fc and/or F(ab')2 fragments. A better understanding of the effector functions of IVIG should help in identification of biomarkers of responses to IVIG in autoimmune patients.
Keywords: B cell; autoimmunity; dendritic cell; granulocyte; sialylation.
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