Immunoglobulin replacement therapy in primary and secondary antibody deficiency: The correct clinical approach

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Immunoglobulin therapy is the administration of human polyvalent IgG and represents the most effective treatment to prevent recurrent infections in antibody deficiency patients. Primary antibody deficiency represents the main indication of immunoglobulin replacement therapy and includes a wide range of disorders characterized by impaired antibody production in response to pathogens and recurrent infections. However, not all primary antibody deficiency patients require immunoglobulin replacement. Indeed, immunoglobulin preparations are expensive and, once prescribed, usually result in lifelong therapy. Moreover, many patients significantly benefit from a long-term antibiotic prophylaxis and a prompt begin of antibiotic therapy in case of infectious events. Even more controversial is the decision to initiate immunoglobulin replacement therapy in secondary antibody deficiency, a heterogeneous and expanding group including B-cell lymphoproliferative syndromes, protein losing states and therapeutic agents. This review seeks to define the indication to immunoglobulin replacement in primary and secondary antibody deficiency disorders, distinguishing those in which the beginning of immunoglobulin therapy is always indicated at the same time as the diagnosis has been made, from those lacking of defined indication to replacement therapy. In addition, we propose a clinical approach, mainly based on the evaluation of infectious history, vaccine response and bronchiectasis finding, to support the decision to initiate immunoglobulin therapy in an individual patient.

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