Evaluating the Effectiveness of Intravenous Immunoglobulin Therapy in Autoimmune Autonomic Ganglionopathy


About this study

The purpose of the study is to see if administering intravenous immune globulin (IVIG) (putting immune globulin directly into your blood) helps to improve the symptoms of orthostatic hypotension (sudden fall in blood pressure when a person stands up) and quality of life in men and women who have autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG).

Participation eligibility

Participant eligibility includes age, gender, type and stage of disease, and previous treatments or health concerns. Guidelines differ from study to study, and identify who can or cannot participate. There is no guarantee that every individual who qualifies and wants to participate in a trial will be enrolled. Contact the study team to discuss study eligibility and potential participation.

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. Participants aged 18 to 85
  2. Participants have neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (fall in systolic blood pressure > 30 mmHg).
  3. Symptoms of orthostatic intolerance.
  4. Antibodies to the neuronal AChR of the autonomic ganglia of >0.2nmol/l. Results must be within 6 months of the screening visit and there may not have been any immunomodulatory interventions since the time of the antibody measurement or the sample will need to be reconfirmed at screening.
  5. Participants must be willing to withdraw from medications that affect vasoactive and autonomic function for 5 half-lives during testing (with the exception of stable doses of fludrocortisone up to 0.2 mg/day) and adhere to a regular diet

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Women of childbearing potential (WOCP) who are not using a medically accepted contraception
  2. Pregnant or lactating females- if participants become pregnant during the trial they will no longer receive IVIG, but will be followed as part of the intention to treat protocol.
  3. Severe depression and/or anxiety (score of > 29 on the Beck Depression Inventory or score on the Beck Anxiety Inventory of ≥ 36)
  4. Active psychosis is ineligible, history of psychosis will be eligible, but only after review with the patients PCP and/or treating mental health provider.
  5. History of asthma
  6. Other causes of autonomic failure (e.g., diabetes, amyloidosis)
  7. History of allergic or anaphylactic reaction to humanized or murine antibodies.
  8. History or presence of recurrent or chronic infection (recurrent infections defined as >4 times per year).
  9. History of cancer, including solid tumors and hematologic malignancies (except fully resolved and resected cutaneous basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin)
  10. History or presence of vascular disease potentially affecting brain or spinal cord (e.g., stroke, transient ischemic attack, carotid stenosis (greater than 80%), aortic aneurysm, intracranial aneurysm, hemorrhage, arteriovenous malformation)
  11. History of severe, clinically significant central nervous system trauma (e.g., cerebral contusion, spinal cord compression)
  12. History or presence of infectious causes of encephalopathy or myelopathy (e.g., syphilis, Lyme disease, human T-cell lymphotropic virus type 1 [HTLV-1], herpes zoster myelopathy)
  13. History of thromboembolic events or deep vein thrombosis
  14. Platelet count <100,000/mL, Hemoglobin <8.5 g/dL, Neutrophils <1.5 x 103/mL.
  15. Serum IgA deficiency: Immunoglobulin A (IgA) level < 7 mg/dL.
  16. History of immunosuppression or HIV/AIDS
  17. History of cardiac arrhythmia or angina, electrocardiogram (ECG) showing significant abnormality that the treating investigator determines may jeopardize the participant's health (i.e., acute ischemia, left bundle branch, or bifascicular block)
  18. History of renal failure or creatinine >2.0
  19. History of previous allergic response to albumin.
  20. Treatment with IVIG or plasma exchange within 6 weeks of study enrollment.
  21. Active adjustments of other immunomodulatory treatments. Patients that are on stable doses of immunomodulatory medications (no dose changes within 4 months -including, but not limited to prednisone, mycophenolate mofetil or azathioprine) but still have elevated antibody titers and meet criteria for inclusion will be allowed to participate in the study.

Participating Mayo Clinic locations

Study statuses change often. Please contact the study team for the most up-to-date information regarding possible participation.

Mayo Clinic Location Status

Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic principal investigator

Phillip Low, M.D.

Closed for enrollment

More information


  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP) causes progressive or relapsing weakness and numbness of the limbs, developing over at least two months. Uncontrolled studies suggest that intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) helps. This review was first published in 2002 and has since been updated, most recently in 2013. Read More on PubMed
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a therapeutic biologic agent that has been prescribed for over two decades to treat various neuromuscular conditions. Most of the treatments are given off-label, as little evidence from large randomized trials exists to support its use. Recently, IGIV-C has received an indication for the treatment of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP). Because of the lack of evidence, an ad hoc committee of the AANEM was convened to draft a consensus statement on the rational use of IVIG for neuromuscular disorders. Recommendations were categorized as Class I-IV based on the strength of the medical literature. Class I evidence exists to support the prescription of IVIG to treat patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), CIDP, multifocal motor neuropathy, refractory exacerbations of myasthenia gravis, Lambert-Eaton syndrome, dermatomyositis, and stiff person syndrome. Treatment of Fisher syndrome, polymyositis, and certain presumed autoimmune neuromuscular disorders is supported only by Class IV studies, whereas there is no convincing data to substantiate the treatment of inclusion body myopathy (IBM), idiopathic neuropathies, brachial plexopathy, or diabetic amyotrophy using IVIG. Treatment with IVIG must be administered in the context of its known adverse effects. There is little evidence to advise the clinician on the proper dosing of IVIG and duration of therapy. Read More on PubMed
  • To evaluate the efficacy of immunotherapy in the treatment of patients with seropositive and seronegative putative autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG) using validated autonomic function tests and instruments. Read More on PubMed
  • Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy is a disorder of isolated autonomic failure associated with antibodies to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of the autonomic ganglia resulting in severe orthostatic intolerance, syncope, constipation, gastroparesis, urinary retention, dry mouth, dry eyes, blurred vision and anhidrosis. We report the autonomic test results, antibody titers and clinical findings in 8 patients with antibodies to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of the autonomic ganglia. There was a sigmoidal relation between the antibody titers and the fall in systolic blood pressure (r(2)=0.84). The threshold occurred with antibody titers of approximately 1 nmol/l. Over the linear portion of the sigmoid curve, with antibody titers in the 1-3 nmol/l range, increasing antibody titers resulted in more severe orthostatic hypotension (r=0.94, P<0.001). The saturation point of the sigmoidal relation occurred at approximately 3 nmol/l with drops in systolic blood pressure of approximately 100 mmHg during upright tilt. The antibody titers correlated inversely with the Valsalva ratio (r=-0.87, P<0.001), the 30:15 ratio (r=-0.84, P<0.001) and the expiratory to inspiratory ratio (r=-0.67, P<0.01). Patients with orthostatic intolerance, anhidrosis, constipation, urinary dysfunction, sicca syndrome and pupillary dysfunction had higher antibody titers than subjects that did not (P<0.01 in all cases). Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy is a clinically heterogeneous disease with variable presentation, particularly in subjects with lower antibody titers. Our data suggest that patients with higher antibody titers have wide spread dysautonomia while those with lower antibody levels may present with, or evolve into, more focal or restricted presentations. Read More on PubMed
  • The most relevant indications for the use of intravenous immunoglobulins and plasma exchange in neurological disorders are described, with special emphasis on the data from clinical trials and aspects of specific importance for clinical routine. Read More on PubMed
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChR) are ligand-gated cation channels that are present throughout the nervous system. The muscle AChR mediates transmission at the neuromuscular junction; antibodies against the muscle AChR are the cause of myasthenia gravis. The ganglionic (alpha 3-type) neuronal AChR mediates fast synaptic transmission in sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric autonomic ganglia. Impaired cholinergic ganglionic synaptic transmission is one important cause of autonomic failure. Pharmacologic enhancement of ganglionic synaptic transmission may be a novel way to improve autonomic function. Ganglionic AChR antibodies are found in patients with autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG). Patients with AAG typically present with rapid onset of severe autonomic failure. Major clinical features include orthostatic hypotension, gastrointestinal dysmotility, anhidrosis, bladder dysfunction, and sicca symptoms. Impaired pupillary light reflex is often seen. Like myasthenia, AAG is an antibody-mediated neurologic disorder. The disease can be reproduced in experimental animals by active immunization or passive antibody transfer. The patient may improve with plasma exchange treatment or other immunomodulatory treatment. Antibodies from patients with AAG inhibit ganglionic AChR currents. Other phenotypes of AAG are now recognized based on the results of antibody testing. These other presentations are generally associated with lower levels of ganglionic AChR antibodies. A chronic progressive form of AAG may resemble pure autonomic failure. Milder forms of dysautonomia, such as postural tachycardia syndrome, are associated with ganglionic AChR in 10-15% of cases. Since ganglionic synaptic transmission is a common pathway for all autonomic traffic, enhancement of autonomic function through inhibition of acetylcholinesterase is a potential specific therapeutic strategy for autonomic disorders. Increasing the strength of ganglionic transmission can ameliorate neurogenic orthostatic hypotension without aggravating supine hypertension. Recent evidence also suggests a potential role for acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in the treatment of postural tachycardia syndrome. Read More on PubMed
  • Autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy is a disorder defined by antibodies to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of the autonomic ganglia. Patients present with symptoms of autonomic failure, including syncope, orthostatic hypotension, bowel and bladder hypomotility, pupillary dysfunction, and dry mouth and eyes. Symptomatic and immunomodulatory therapy has provided limited clinical benefit in small uncontrolled studies. Read More on PubMed
  • To document short-term and long-term responses to a single type of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) in a large cohort of patients with multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN). Read More on PubMed
  • To define the clinical spectrum in a large cohort of patients with multifocal motor neuropathy (MMN) and the effectiveness of IVIg treatment. We also test two neurophysiologic criteria for conduction block (CB) for relevance to treatment responsiveness. Read More on PubMed
  • We aimed to determine the effectiveness of IV immunoglobulin (IVIG) in the treatment of patients with myasthenia gravis (MG) and worsening weakness in a randomized, placebo-controlled, masked study. Read More on PubMed
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome consists of at least four subtypes of acute peripheral neuropathy. Major advances have been made in understanding the mechanisms of some of the subtypes. The histological appearance of the acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP) subtype resembles experimental autoimmune neuritis, which is predominantly caused by T cells directed against peptides from the myelin proteins P0, P2, and PMP22. The role of T-cell-mediated immunity in AIDP remains unclear and there is evidence for the involvement of antibodies and complement. Strong evidence now exists that axonal subtypes of Guillain-Barré syndrome, acute motor axonal neuropathy (AMAN), and acute motor and sensory axonal neuropathy (AMSAN), are caused by antibodies to gangliosides on the axolemma that target macrophages to invade the axon at the node of Ranvier. About a quarter of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome have had a recent Campylobacter jejuni infection, and axonal forms of the disease are especially common in these people. The lipo-oligosaccharide from the C jejuni bacterial wall contains ganglioside-like structures and its injection into rabbits induces a neuropathy that resembles acute motor axonal neuropathy. Antibodies to GM1, GM1b, GD1a, and GalNac-GD1a are in particular implicated in acute motor axonal neuropathy and, with the exception of GalNacGD1a, in acute motor and sensory axonal neuropathy. The Fisher's syndrome subtype is especially associated with antibodies to GQ1b, and similar cross-reactivity with ganglioside structures in the wall of C jejuni has been discovered. Anti-GQ1b antibodies have been shown to damage the motor nerve terminal in vitro by a complement-mediated mechanism. Results of international randomised trials have shown equivalent efficacy of both plasma exchange and intravenous immunoglobulin, but not corticosteroids, in hastening recovery from Guillain-Barré syndrome. Further research is needed to discover treatments to prevent 20% of patients from being left with persistent and significant disability. Read More on PubMed
  • The authors report a 46-year-old woman with antibodies to the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (NiAchR) of the autonomic ganglia. She presented with severe orthostatic intolerance refractory to treatment with midodrine, fludrocortisone, erythropoietin, vasopressin, salt, and fluid loading. Addition of L-threo-3,4-dihidroxyphenylserine (L-DOPS) substantially improved blood pressure and orthostatic tolerance. L-DOPS may benefit patients with severe orthostatic intolerance and be particularly effective in patients with ganglionic NiAchR antibodies. Read More on PubMed
  • Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome is an autoimmune presynaptic disorder of neuromuscular transmission. Treatments attempt to overcome the harmful autoimmune process, or to improve residual neuromuscular transmission, in order to reverse muscle weakness. Read More on PubMed
  • Autoimmune autonomic neuropathy (AAN) is an acquired, often severe, form of dysautonomia. Many patients with AAN have serum antibodies specific for the neuronal ganglionic nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR). Rabbits immunized with a fusion protein corresponding to the N-terminal extracellular domain of the ganglionic AChR alpha3 subunit produce ganglionic AChR antibodies and develop signs of experimental AAN (EAAN) that recapitulate the cardinal autonomic features of AAN in man. We now demonstrate that EAAN is an antibody-mediated disorder by documenting sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric autonomic dysfunction in mice injected with rabbit IgG containing ganglionic AChR antibodies. Recipient mice develop transient gastrointestinal dysmotility, urinary retention, dilated pupils, reduced heart rate variability, and impaired catecholamine response to stress. The autonomic signs are associated with a reversible failure of nicotinic cholinergic synaptic transmission in superior mesenteric ganglia. Mice injected with IgG from two patients with AAN (of three tested) demonstrated a milder phenotype with evidence of urinary retention and gastrointestinal dysmotility. The demonstration that ganglionic AChR-specific IgG causes impaired autonomic synaptic transmission and autonomic failure in mice implicates an antibody-mediated pathogenesis for AAN. The antibody effect is potentially reversible, justifying early use of immunomodulatory therapy directed at lowering IgG levels and abrogating IgG production in patients with AAN. Read More on PubMed
  • Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) enhances immune homeostasis by modulating expression and function of Fc receptors, interfering with activation of complement and production of cytokines, providing anti-idiotypic antibodies, and affecting the activation and effector functions of T and B cells. These mechanisms may explain the effectiveness of IVIG in autoimmune neuromuscular disorders. Read More on PubMed
  • We analyzed the clinical characteristics of 18 patients (13 female, 5 male) who had autoimmune autonomic neuropathy (AAN) and ganglionic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) autoantibodies. Mean age was 61.4 years (standard deviation, 12.0 years). Ten patients had subacute symptom onset, six with an antecedent event. Eight patients had chronic AAN, characterized by insidious symptom onset, without antecedent event, and gradual progression. A majority of patients with high antibody values (>1.00 nmol/L) had a combination of sicca complex (marked dry eyes and dry mouth), abnormal pupillary light response, upper gastrointestinal symptoms, and neurogenic bladder. Chronic AAN segregated into two subgroups. One subgroup (N = 4) had low antibody titer (0.09 +/- 0.01 nmol/L) and a paucity of cholinergic symptoms. It was indistinguishable from pure autonomic failure. The other subgroup (N = 4) had high antibody titer (11.6 +/- 2.08 nmol/L), sicca complex, abnormal pupils, and neurogenic bladder; three had severe upper gastrointestinal dysfunction. Higher antibody titers correlated with greater autonomic dysfunction and more frequent cholinergic dysautonomia. These observations expand the clinical spectrum of AAN to include chronic cases, some being indistinguishable from pure autonomic failure, and support the concept that ganglionic AChR antibodies are important diagnostically and pathophysiologically in acquired dysautonomia. Read More on PubMed
  • Important progress has been made in our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes underlying autoimmune neuromuscular diseases that has led us to identify targets for rational therapeutic intervention. Although antigen-specific immunotherapy is not yet available, old and new immunomodulatory treatments, alone or in combination, provide effective immunotherapy for most autoimmune disorders. In parallel, the achievements of molecular medicine provide more specific yet largely experimental therapeutic tools that need to be tested in the human diseases. Here we review the principles and targets of immunotherapy for autoimmune neuromuscular disorders, address applications and practical guidelines, and give an outlook on future developments. Read More on PubMed
  • The optimal treatment of patients with neuropathy associated with IgG monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance is unknown. Plasma exchange has been shown to be effective but alternative therapies have not been systematically evaluated. Read More on PubMed
  • The molecular basis for the anti-inflammatory property of intravenous gamma globulin (IVIG) was investigated in a murine model of immune thrombocytopenia. Administration of clinically protective doses of intact antibody or monomeric Fc fragments to wild-type or Fcgamma receptor-humanized mice prevented platelet consumption triggered by a pathogenic autoantibody. The inhibitory Fc receptor, FcgammaRIIB, was required for protection, because disruption either by genetic deletion or with a blocking monoclonal antibody reversed the therapeutic effect of IVIG. Protection was associated with the ability of IVIG administration to induce surface expression of FcgammaRIIB on splenic macrophages. Modulation of inhibitory signaling is thus a potent therapeutic strategy for attenuating autoantibody-triggered inflammatory diseases. Read More on PubMed
  • To determine the effect of IV immunoglobulin (IVIg) on neurologic function and electrophysiologic studies in multifocal motor neuropathy with conduction block (MMN). Read More on PubMed
  • Idiopathic autonomic neuropathy is a severe, subacute disorder with a presumed autoimmune basis. It is indistinguishable from the subacute autonomic neuropathy that may accompany lung cancer or other tumors. Autoantibodies specific for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the autonomic ganglia are potentially pathogenic and may serve as serologic markers of various forms of autoimmune autonomic neuropathy. Read More on PubMed
  • Acute pandysautonomia has been suggested to be an uncommon variant of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Acute pandysautonomia does not seem to have been treated with intravenous immunoglobulin or other therapies proved efficacious in Guillain-Barre syndrome. A patient is reported with severe acute pandysautonomia who responded dramatically to intravenous immunoglobulin. The findings are consistent with a dysimmune pathogenesis for this syndrome and suggest a possible treatment for future cases. Read More on PubMed
  • In this study, we preincubated the sera of 3 patients with neuropathies associated with elevated titers of IgM anti-GM1 antibodies, with increasing concentrations of intravenous Ig (IVIg) and assayed the inhibitory effect of this mixture on antibody binding to immobilized GM1 by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Pharmacologic concentrations of IVIg, ranging from 0.1 microgram/ml to 100 mg/ml, inhibited anti-GM1 binding to its target antigen from 26 +/- 3 to 71 +/- 7%, respectively, in a dose-dependent manner. A similar inhibition of binding was also observed with IVIg F(ab')2 fragments. These findings provide a possible mechanism for the clinical efficacy of IVIg in motor neuropathies. Read More on PubMed
  • A previously healthy 23-year-old man presented with a short history of abdominal pain and diarrhoea followed by blurred vision, severe postural hypotension, reduced sweating and unremitting fever. Read More on PubMed
  • Dermatomyositis is a clinically distinct myopathy characterized by rash and a complement-mediated microangiopathy that results in the destruction of muscle fibers. In some patients the condition becomes resistant to therapy and causes severe physical disabilities. Read More on PubMed

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