Intravenous immunoglobulin for treating sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock

  • Alejandria M
  • Lansang M
  • Dans L
  • et al.
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BACKGROUND: Death from severe sepsis and septic shock is common, and researchers have explored whether antibodies to the endotoxins in some bacteria reduces mortality. OBJECTIVES: To estimate the effects of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) in patients with bacterial sepsis or septic shock on mortality, bacteriological failure rates, and duration of stay in hospital. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group specialized register up to November 2001; the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, The Cochrane Library issue 4, 2001; MEDLINE 1966 to November 2001; and EMBASE 1988 to September 2001. We contacted investigators active in the field for unpublished data. SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomised trials comparing intravenous immunoglobulin (monoclonal or polyclonal) with placebo or no intervention, in patients with bacterial sepsis or septic shock. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Inclusion criteria, trial quality assessment, and data abstraction were done in duplicate. We conducted pre-specified subgroup analyses by type of immunoglobulin preparation. MAIN RESULTS: Twenty-seven out of 55 studies met our inclusion criteria. Pooled analysis of all types of IVIG preparations revealed a significant trend toward reduction of mortality (n= 8,856; RR=0.91; 95%CI 0.86-0.96). Overall mortality was reduced in patients who received polyclonal IVIG (n=492; RR=0.64; 95% CI 0.51 to 0.80). For the two high-quality trials on polyclonal IVIG, the RR for overall mortality was 0.30, but the confidence interval was wide (95% CI 0.09 to 0.99, n=91). Mortality was not reduced among patients who received monoclonal antibodies such as anti-endotoxins (n=2,826 in 5 good-quality studies; RR=0.97; 95% CI 0.88 to 1.07) or anti-cytokines (n=4,318; RR=0.93; 95% CI 0.86 to 1.01). A few studies measured secondary outcomes (deaths from sepsis or length of hospitalisation) but no differences in the intervention and control groups were identified except among those who received polyclonal IVIG, where sepsis-related mortality was significantly reduced (n=161; RR=0.35; 95% CI 0.18 to 0.69). REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: Polyclonal IVIG significantly reduced mortality and and is a promising adjuvant in the treatment of sepsis and septic shock. However, all the trials were small and the totality of the evidence is insufficient to support a robust conclusion of benefit. Adjunctive therapy with monoclonal IVIGs remains experimental.




Alejandria, M. M., Lansang, M. A. D., Dans, L. F., & Mantaring III, J. B. (2002). Intravenous immunoglobulin for treating sepsis, severe sepsis and septic shock. In Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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