Patients with plateau-phase multiple myeloma have an increased risk of life-threatening bacterial infections and polyclonal humoral immune suppression. We conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicentre trial of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) as prophylaxis against infection. 82 patients with stable multiple myeloma received monthly infusions of IVIg at 0·4 g/kg body weight or an equivalent volume of placebo (0·4% albumin) intravenously for 1 year. Other interventions, including chemotherapy, were not affected; no patient received prophylactic antibiotics. There were no differences at entry or on study in clinical or laboratory variables between patients in the two groups. There were no episodes of septicaemia or pneumonia in patients receiving IVIg compared with 10 in placebo patients (p=0·002). There were 57 serious infections; 38 occurred in 470 patient-months on placebo, compared with 19 in 449 patient-months on IVIg (p=0·019). IVIg also protected against recurrent infections (p=0·021) in 60 patients who completed a year. Before treatment, 54 patients were immunised with Pneumovax and specific IgG responses were measured. A poor pneumococcal IgG antibody response (less than 2-fold increase) identified patients who had maximum benefit from IVIg. Mild adverse reactions were noted in 12% of IVIg infusions and 5% of placebo infusions. IVIg can be given safely to plateau-phase myeloma patients. It protects against life-threatening infections and significantly reduces the risk of recurrent infections. The individuals who benefit most can be identified prospectively by measuring IgG antibody responses to pneumococcal immunisation. © 1994.
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