Objective: To assess the efficacy and safety of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA).
Methods: Thirty-one children with active, refractory, systemic JRA were randomized into a multicentered, double blinded, placebo controlled trial. Patients received infusions of 1.5 g/kg of IVIG or placebo (0.1% albumin) every 2 weeks for 2 months, then monthly for 4 months (total: up to 9 infusions over 6 months). Twenty-nine of the 31 patients were included in the efficacy subset.
Results: Fourteen patients discontinued prematurely from study, 7 in each treatment group. A higher proportion of patients in the IVIG group improved (50 vs 27%) as assessed by the physician's global assessment. However, the sample size was small and this difference was not statistically significant. IVIG was not more effective than placebo in reducing the number of days with fever or other systemic manifestations. Changes from baseline in the joint count, hemoglobin, albumin, platelet count, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate did not differ between treatment groups.
Conclusion: Our results suggest that high dose IVIG has limited clinical utility in systemic JRA. However, this trial failed to enroll adequate numbers of patients to permit valid statistical intergroup comparisons, and the results must be considered nondefinitive.