REVIEW
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Immunotherapy for IgM anti-Myelin-Associated Glycoprotein paraprotein-associated peripheral neuropathies.

BACKGROUND: Serum monoclonal anti-Myelin Associated Glycoprotein antibodies may be pathogenic in some patients with IgM paraprotein and demyelinating neuropathy. Immunotherapies aimed at reducing the level of these antibodies might be expected to be of benefit in the treatment of the neuropathy. Many potential therapies have been described in small trials, uncontrolled studies and case reports.

OBJECTIVES: To examine the efficacy of any form of immunotherapy in reducing disability and impairment resulting from IgM anti-Myelin Associated Glycoprotein paraprotein-associated demyelinating peripheral neuropathy.

SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group register (August 2002) and MEDLINE (January 1966 - August 2002) and EMBASE (January 1980 - August 2002) for controlled trials, checked the bibliographies to identify other controlled trials and contacted authors and other experts in the field.

SELECTION CRITERIA: Types of studies: randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials.

TYPES OF PARTICIPANTS: patients of any age with anti-Myelin Associated Glycoprotein antibody associated demyelinating peripheral neuropathy with monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance of any severity. Types of interventions: any type of immunotherapy. Types of outcome measures: Primary: improvement in the Neuropathy Disability Score or Modified Rankin Scale six months after randomisation Secondary: Neuropathy Disability Score and/or the Modified Rankin Score 12 months after randomisation. Ten metre walk time, subjective clinical scores and electrophysiological parameters at six and 12 months after randomisation. IgM paraprotein levels and anti-Myelin Associated Glycoprotein antibody titres six months after randomisation. Adverse effects of treatments.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: We identified six randomised controlled trials of which five were included after discussion between the authors. One author extracted the data and the other checked them. No missing data could be obtained from authors.

MAIN RESULTS: The five eligible trials used four of the many available immunotherapy treatments. Only two had comparable interventions and outcomes but these were only short-term studies. There were no significant benefits of the treatments used in the predefined outcomes. However intravenous immunoglobulin showed benefits in terms of improved Modified Rankin Scale at two weeks and 10 metre walk time at four weeks. Serious adverse effects of intravenous immunoglobulin are known to occur from observational studies but none were encountered in these trials.

REVIEWER'S CONCLUSIONS: There is inadequate reliable evidence from trials of immunotherapies in anti-Myelin Associated Glycoprotein paraproteinaemic neuropathy to recommend any particular immunotherapy treatment. Intravenous immunoglobulin is relatively safe and may produce some short-term benefit. Large well designed randomised trials are required to assess the efficacy of promising new therapies.

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