Objective: To determine whether intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) prevents severe infections during autologous bone marrow transplantation or equivalent high-dose myelosuppressive therapy.
Design: Randomized, stratified, nonblinded study.
Setting: Three tertiary care university hospitals.
Patients: One hundred seventy patients entered the study; 82 received IVIG and 88 were untreated controls. The study groups were similar for parameters capable of influencing the likelihood of infection.
Interventions: Intravenous immunoglobulin was given weekly at a dose of 500 mg/kg body weight from the initiation of cytotoxic therapy to the resolution of neutropenia.
Measurements: The development of bloodstream or other clinically proven infection, platelet use, and the development of alloimmunity to platelet transfusion.
Results: Clinical infection, bacteremia, and fungemia occurred in 43%, 35%, and 6% of the IVIG-treated patients and in 44%, 34%, and 9% of the control patients. Gram-positive bacteremia and gram-negative bacteremia occurred in 28% and 11% of the IVIG group and in 23% and 13% of the control group. Death due to infection occurred in 4.9% of IVIG recipients and in 2.3% of controls. None of these observations was statistically significant (P > 0.2). Survival to hospital discharge was achieved in 86.6% of the IVIG group and in 96.6% of the control group. The survival difference (10%; 95% CI, 1.7% to 18.3%; P = 0.02) was due to a higher incidence of regimen-related toxic death in the IVIG-treated group.
Conclusions: The use of IVIG did not prevent infection. Fewer deaths occurred among controls due to a higher incidence of fatal hepatic veno-occlusive disease in patients receiving IVIG.