J Neurol. 2021 Mar 6. doi: 10.1007/s00415-021-10494-w. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: For most viral encephalitides, therapy is merely supportive. Intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) have been used as a prophylactic and therapeutic approach. We conduct a systematic review on the safety and efficacy of IVIG in viral encephalitis.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic review assessing PubMed, Cochrane Database, Biosis Previews and the ClinicalTrials.gov website to identify all reports on patients with viral encephalitis treated with IVIG as of May 31, 2019. The main outcomes assessed were therapeutic efficacy and safety. For an increased homogeneity of the population, atypical viral infections were excluded, as were reports on prophylactic IVIG use, intrathecal application of immunoglobulins, or use of antibody-enriched IVIG-preparations. Data were extracted from published studies. Descriptive statistics were used.
RESULTS: We included a total of 44 studies (39 case reports). The case reports cover a total of 53 patients. Our search retrieved two prospective and three retrospective studies. These show heterogeneous results as to the efficacy of IVIG therapy. Only one study reports a significant association between IVIG-use and death (odds ratio 0.032; 95% confidence interval 0.0033-0.3024; p = 0.0027). None of the studies report significant differences in the number of serious adverse events.
CONCLUSION: Data on the efficacy of IVIG-therapy is heterogeneous. While it seems generally safe, evident superiority compared to supportive treatment has not been demonstrated so far. Future trials should also investigate the optimal dosing and timing of IVIG and their benefit in the immunosuppressed.