A controlled trial of intravenous immunoglobulin G in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Department of Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55415.
The American Journal of Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.3). 12/1990; 89(5):554-60. DOI: 10.1016/0002-9343(90)90172-A
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Currently, there is no established therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a recently defined illness that has been associated with a variety of immunologic abnormalities. Based on the hypothesis that a chronic viral infection or an immunoregulatory defect is involved in the pathogenesis of CFS, the therapeutic benefit of intravenous immunoglobulin G (IV IgG) was evaluated in a group of patients with CFS. Additionally, serum immunoglobulin concentrations and peripheral blood lymphocyte subset numbers were measured at the outset of the study, and the effect of IV IgG therapy on IgG subclass levels was determined.
Thirty patients with CFS were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of IV IgG. The treatment regimen consisted of IV IgG (1 g/kg) or intravenous placebo (1% albumin solution) administered every 30 days for 6 months. Participants completed a self-assessment form prior to each of the six treatments, which was used to measure severity of symptoms, functional status, and health perceptions. Patients were also asked to report adverse experiences defined as worsening of symptoms occurring within 48 hours of each treatment.
Twenty-eight patients completed the trial. At baseline, all 28 patients complained of moderate to severe fatigue, and measures of social functioning and health perceptions showed marked impairment. Low levels of IgG1 were found in 12 (42.9%), and 18 (64.3%) had low levels of IgG3. At the end of the study, no significant therapeutic benefit could be detected in terms of symptom amelioration or improvement in functional status, despite restoration of IgG1 levels to a normal range. Major adverse experiences were observed in 20% of both the IV IgG and placebo groups.
The results of this study indicate that IV IgG is unlikely to be of clinical benefit in CFS. In addition to the ongoing need for placebo-controlled trials of candidate therapies for CFS, an expanded research effort is needed to define the etiology and pathogenesis of this disorder.

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Carlos Schenck