Early platelet and leukocyte decline in patients with neuroinflammatory disorders after intravenous immunoglobulins

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Background and purpose:

Intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIGs) are a common therapy in patients with neuroinflammatory disorders, especially chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy or Guillain−Barré syndrome. Hematological toxicities upon IVIG infusion are a known side effect and still an important subject of investigation.


Laboratory results and data for clinical efficacy and tolerability of 62 patients with neuroinflammatory disorders treated with IVIG (0.4 g/kg bodyweight per day over 5 days) at the Department of Neurology, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, were retrospectively analyzed. Blood samples were taken before and 1 day after IVIG administration.


In pre-treated and first-time treated patients, there was a significant decrease in white blood cell count (WBC) (8.10 ± 2.85/nl to 5.61 ± 2.50/nl, P < 0.001, n = 57) and platelets (255 ± 72/nl to 215 ± 66/nl, P < 0.001, n = 57). Mild hemolysis of red blood cells was found in patients who received IVIG for the first time (red blood cell count 4.61 ± 0.67/pl to 4.28 ± 0.52/pl, hemoglobin 13.7 ± 1.7 g/l to 13.0 ± 1.7 g/l, P < 0.001, n = 40). Hemolysis was associated with less tolerability of IVIG treatment and clinical efficacy was accompanied with a higher decline of WBC (not significant).


Next to mild hemolysis, a significant decrease in WBC and platelets can be detected early after high dose IVIGs in patients with neuroinflammatory disorders. Changes in blood counts may be possible markers for clinical efficacy and tolerability. Patients with low blood counts in advance should be particularly closely monitored whilst on IVIG treatment.

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