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IgG subclass deficiency with or without IgA deficiency.

IgG subclass deficiency (IgGSD) is difficult to define since reference materials vary between laboratories and the clinically relevant cut off levels for the various subclasses are not well known. The diagnosis of IgGSD should be based on more than one determination since the levels vary, due to various factors such as infections, operations, etc. There is a relation between IgGSD and occurrence of frequent infections, but at the same time even total lack of a subclass can be seen in healthy individuals. Infections in the upper and lower respiratory tract predominate. Gm allotypes influence IgG subclass levels. Most IgGSD patients are homozygous in the Gm system. Immunocytes producing IgG3 in the nasal mucosa correlate with serum IgG3 levels, whereas rectal IgG1 producing cells relate to serum IgG1 levels. This may reflect differences in antigen and/or mitogen exposure at the two mucosal sites. IgG2SD is the predominant form of IgGSD among children, whereas after puberty IgG3SD is most common. At the same age period there is a switch in sex distribution from three boys/one girl to one male/three females. Various abnormalities in B and T lymphocyte numbers and function are often found. In a double blind crossover study of Ig prophylaxis over 2 years in 43 IgGSD adult patients a significant decrease in the number of days with infections was seen both in the whole group and among the IgG1 deficient. Days with bronchial constriction were also significantly decreased among the 22 patients who had asthma as well. Acute bronchitis became significantly less frequent in the IgG3 deficient patients during Ig prophylaxis. This was seen in those under the lower range of 0.41 g/liter of Oxelius' early normal material, although many recent reference materials suggest 0.14-0.15 g/liter of IgG3 as the cut off. In a group of 25 consecutive patients with IgGSD + IgA deficiency recurrent respiratory infections were the major problem and lung function impairment was found in 12, and bronchiectasies in 5. Still many individuals with this combined deficiency have been reported to be healthy, again illustrating our limited understanding of these conditions.

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