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Keywords:

  • Pain;
  • Immune system;
  • Immunoglobulin;
  • Immunotherapy;
  • Pathophysiology;
  • Therapy

Abstract

Background

The treatment of chronic pain is still unsatisfactory. Despite the availability of different drugs, most patients with chronic pain do not receive satisfactory pain relief or report side effects. Converging evidence implicates involvement of the immune system in the pathogenesis of different types of nociceptive and neuropathic chronic pain.

Design

At a workshop in Liverpool, UK (October 2012), experts presented evidence suggesting immunological involvement in chronic pain and recent data supporting the concept that the established immune-modulating drug, polyvalent immunoglobulin G (IgG), either given intravenously (IVIg) or subcutaneously (SCIg), may reduce pain in some peripheral neuropathies and a range of other pain disorders. Workshop's attendees discussed the practicalities of using IVIg and SCIg in these disorders, including indications, cost-effectiveness, and side effects.

Results

IgG may reduce pain in a range of nociceptive and neuropathic chronic pain conditions, including diabetes mellitus, Sjögren's syndrome, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, post-polio syndrome, and pain secondary to pathological autoantibodies.

Conclusions

IgG is a promising treatment in several chronic pain conditions. IgG is a relatively safe therapeutic strategy, with uncommon and mild side effects but high costs. Randomized, controlled trials and predictive tests are needed to better support the use of IgG for refractory chronic pain.