To assess whether IV immunoglobulins (IVIgs) as a first-line treatment for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP) have a regulative effect on natural killer (NK) cells that is related to clinical responsiveness to IVIg.
In a prospective longitudinal study, we collected blood samples of 29 patients with CIDP before and after initiation of IVIg treatment for up to 6 months. We used semiquantitative PCR and flow cytometry in the peripheral blood to analyze the effects of IVIg on the NK cells. The results were correlated with clinical aspects encompassing responsiveness.
We found a reduction in the expression of several typical NK cell genes 1 day after IVIg administration. Flow cytometry furthermore revealed a reduced cytotoxic CD56dim NK cell population, whereas regulatory CD56bright NK cells remained mostly unaffected or were even increased after IVIg treatment. Surprisingly, the observed effects on NK cells almost exclusively occurred in IVIg-responsive patients with CIDP.
The correlation between the altered NK cell population and treatment efficiency suggests a crucial role for NK cells in the still speculative mode of action of IVIg treatment. Analyzing NK cell subsets after 24 hours of treatment initiation appeared as a predictive marker for IVIg responsiveness. Further studies are warranted investigating the potential of NK cell status as a routine parameter in patients with CIDP before IVIg therapy.
Classification of evidence
This study provides Class I evidence that NK cell markers predict clinical response to IVIg in patients with CIDP.