What is known and Objective: Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) is a commonly used therapy for autoimmune disease, but may cause chronic hypertension and thrombosis. We determined whether: (i) IVIg systematically affects blood pressure in the short term; (ii) acute changes in plasma viscosity because of IVIg correlate with blood pressure effects; (iii) effects of IVIg on acute blood pressure are related to baseline blood pressure or hypertension status and (iv) IVIg influences plasma markers of inflammation, anticardiolipin antibodies and homocysteine as additional putative prothrombotic risk factors. Methods: Twenty adults with autoimmune neurological disease who received a course of IVIg were evaluated immediately before and after each infusion, on every day of the course. Blood pressure, pulse and the following haematological parameters were determined: plasma viscosity, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), C-reactive protein (CRP), haematocrit, fibrinogen, interleukin-6 (IL-6), homocysteine and anticardiolipin positivity. Results: Intravenous immunoglobulin caused both acute and cumulative rises in plasma viscosity across a treatment course, but no concordant changes in blood pressure. There was also no correlation between individual blood pressure changes and viscosity, baseline blood pressure or hypertension status. Levels of IL-6 rose across the course of therapy, but the acute-phase reactants CRP and fibrinogen did not. One patient developed anticardiolipin antibodies during therapy. What is new and Conclusion: Individual courses of IVIg do not systematically raise blood pressure. Where IVIg is found to cause hypertension, this does not appear to be due to a direct effect of IVIg on plasma viscosity.
- intravenous immunoglobulin