Immunoglobulins (also called gamaglobulins or serum immune globulins) are substances obtained from human blood plasma. Plasma, processed from donors, contains antibodies that protect the body against disease. When immunoglobulins are administered, the body uses antibodies from other individuals to help prevent disease.
Specific types of immunoglobulins are obtained for protection against specific diseases, such as hepatitis, varicella or measles.
Immunoglobulin injection should:
Immunoglobulins should be administered if exposure has occurred or there is a risk of exposure to an infectious disease. For certain diseases, such as hepatitis A, immunoglobulins may be given before exposure, such as before traveling to a country where this disease is endemic (often encountered).
If exposure has occurred, immunoglobulins may prevent or alleviate the severity of the disease if administered shortly after exposure. The period of time in which the immunoglobulin injection provides these benefits is limited, by the order of hours or days, depending on the disease.
Immunoglobulins are not vaccines. The protection they induce is short-lived, usually for several months. However, it is possible that the disease can be contacted after immunoglobulins have been used.
When a Rh-negative woman is pregnant with a fetus Rh-positive (which is possible when the father is Rh-positive), the pregnant woman's immune system produces antibodies that can destroy the fetus's blood. The response of these antibodies is called Rh sensitization and occurs only in girls whose blood is mixed with the blood of the mother, which may occur at birth.
In order to prevent Rh sensitization during birth, Rh immunoglobulin injection is necessary if the Rh of the pregnant woman is negative. These are given during pregnancy and after birth, to protect the baby from a future pregnancy.
Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (PTI)
Immunoglobulins are sometimes used to treat idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (PTI), an immune disease in which the body attacks the cells responsible for blood clotting (blood platelets), causing mild or severe bleeding. The causes of PTI are unknown (idiopathic).
Individuals with this disease may have bruises (bruises) or purples (spots that do not disappear when pressed) black-blue on the skin. Internal bleeding in such patients is a severe complication.
Some cases of PTI may heal on their own and do not require treatment. In other cases, treatment requires control of bleeding. Steroid medication (like Prednisone) may be needed to suppress the immune system. In rare cases splenectomy (spleen removal) is recommended.