Immunoglobulin M deficiency
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Synonyms and Keywords: IgM deficiency
Immunoglobulin M deficiency is said to be present when the levels of IgM in serum are <40mg/dl while the levels of all other immunoglobulins are within normal range. IgM deficiency was first noted in 1969 by Roy- Chawdhary from a jejunal biopsy. It is of 2 types primary and secondary IgM deficiency. IgM deficiency can occur due to a defect in B cells or T cells. IgM deficiency can lead to chronic infections, development of autoimmune disease and neoplastic diseases. IgM deficiency cab be caused in autoimmune conditions and it can itself lead to the development of autoimmune conditions. IgM deficiency can be differentiated from other immunoglobuiln deficiencies by measuring the levels of all the immunoglobulins.The incidence/prevalence of IgM deficiency is approximately 100-2000 per 100,000 individuals worldwide. The patients usually present with chronic or recurrent infections. Signs and symptoms of chronic lung disease, chronic ear and chronic sinus infections may be present.
- IgM was discovered by Waldenstrom, Pedersen and kunkel in 1944 by immunoelectrophoresis and ultracentrifugation.
- IgM deficiency was first noted in 1969 by Roy- Chawdhary from a jejunal biopsy.
There is no established system for the classification of IgM deficiency.However, it may present as 2 types:
- Primary IgM deficiency-
- There occurs just IgM deficiency and no other associated condition.
- It is present in children as a congenital condition.
- Secondary IgM deficiency-
- IgM is the first antibody that is present on the surface of B lymphocytes when they come in contact with an antigen.
- It is the primary antibody against A and B antigens on red blood cells.
- Other immunoglublins such as IgG, IgA and IgE are produced after alteration in the structure of IgM heavy chains on the B lymphocytes.
- IgM is present in the circulation as a pentamer structure. and is the largest antibody in human circulatory system.
- Presence of IgM antibodies in a patient's serum indicates recent infection, or in a neonate's serum indicates intrauterine infection (e.g. congenital rubella).
- IgM activates the classic pathway of complement system.
- In IgM deficiency there occurs deficiency of IgM but normal levels of IgG and IgA.
- The level of IgM in serum is less than 40mg/dl (normal value 45-150mg/dl).
- The defeciency in IgM could be due to:
- This results in decreased sysnthesis of IgM in the body.
- It can be primary or secondary.
- The primary IgM deficiency presents with chronic infections while secondary presents with associated autoimmune conditions or neoplasms.
- Due to absence of IgM, infections like otitis media, chronic sinusitis, bronchitis, bronchiectasis, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, cellulitis, meningitis, sepsis, etc. are very common.
- Most common infections are staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pneumonia and haemophilus influenza.
- IgM deficiency increases the risk of acquiring autoimmune and some malignant conditions.
The exact cause of IgM deficiency is not known.
- Primary IgM deficiency ouccrs in children and is congenital.
- Secondary IgM deficiency occurs in adults and is associated with autoimmune disorders and neoplasms.
- There is no identified cause but risk factors which are:
Differentiating IgM deficiency from Other Diseases
- IgM deficiency can be differentiated from other diseases of the same kind by measuring the value of other immunoglobulins.
- In IgM deficiency only IgM levels are deficIent while the rest are within normal limits.
|Disease||IgM levels||IgG levels||IgA levels||IgE levels||B cell defect||T cell defect|
|X linked agammaglobulinemia||↓||↓||↓||↓||+||-|
|Hyperimmunoglobulin M syndrome||↑||↓||↓||↓||+||-|
|Common variable immunodeficiency||↓||↓||↓||↓||+||-|
|Hyper IgE syndrome||-||-||-||↑||-||+|
Epidemiology and Demographics
- The incidence of IgM deficiency is approximately 100-2000 per 100,000 individuals worldwide.
- Primary IgM defiicency is present congenitally in children which presents in age group 3-36 months.
- Secondary IgM deficiency occurs in adults in age group 30-40, no relation with sex or age.
- Complications such as development of autoimmune disease and neoplastic conditions occur in adult age group.
- Clear cell carcinoma
- Bloom syndrome
- Promyelocytic leukemia
- Crohn's disease
- Chronic diarrhea
- Whipple disease
- Infants with hypothyroidism
- Multiple myeloma
- Chromosome 22q.11.2 deletion
- There is insufficient data to recommend screening for IgM deficiency.
- However, in patients presenting with recurrent infections, all immunologlobulins (IgM, IgG, IgA, IgE and IgD) can be measured.
Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis
- The patient may be asysmptomatic or present with signs of chronic infections.
- Children born with IgM deficiency as in primary IgM deficiency present with chronic infections such as:
- Adlults with IgM deficiency as in secondary IgM deficiency also present with chronic and multiple infections.
- With time, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases may also occur such as:
- The prgnosis is good in primary IgM deficiency if diagnosed early as IgM supplements can be given.
- In secondary IgM, autoimmune and neoplastic complications occur and prognosis is poor.
Diagnostic Study of Choice
The diagnosis of IgM deficiency is made by measuring serum IgM levels.
- Serum IgM levels of <40mg/dl is diagnostic of IgM deficiency
- Serum sample is taken and then anti immunoglobulins are added.
- The amount of IgM produced is then measured.
- Other tests include
History and Symptoms
- The majority of patients with IgM deficiency are asymptomatic.
- They may present with history of :
- The patients may be asymptomatic.
- Symptoms of IgM deficiency may include the symptoms of recurrent sinopulmonary infections include otitis media, rhinosinusitis, pneumonia and more serious infections that can occur, include osteomyelitis, meningitis, septicemia, diarrhea, and various skin infections:
- Physical examination of patients with longstanding IgM deficiency may present with
- Decreased levels of IgM(>40mg/dl) is considered diagnostic for IgM deficiency.
- Levels of other immunoglobulins(IgA, IgG, IgE and IgD)are within normal range.
- White blood cell count may be raised.
There are no ECG findings associated with IgM defiicency.
There are no specific findings for IgM deficiency on x ray but signs of lung disease may be present.
- Increased bronchovascular markings in bronchitis.
- Lung hyperinflation with flattened hemidiaphragms in emphysema.
- Consolidation in pneumonia.
- Tram track opacities in bronchiectasis.
Echocardiography or Ultrasound
There are no echocardiography/ultrasound findings associated with IgM deficiency
- There are no CT scan findings associated with IgM deficiency.
- Changes of chronic lung disease, if present will be visible on CT and can help differentiate the cause and extent of the disease.
- Chronic sinusitis- mucosal thickening, complete opacification, bone remodeling and thickening due to osteitis, and polyposis.
There are no MRI findings associated with IgM deficiency.
However, signs of chronic lung disease or chronic sinsuitis may be present.
Other Imaging Findings
There are no other imaging findings associated with IgM deficiency.
Other Diagnostic Studies
There are no other diagnostic studies associated with IgM deficiency.
- Asymptomatic individuals do not require any treatment.
- IVIG can be used in some patients but not effective in all the patients in a dose range of 400 to 600 mg/kg infused every three to four weeks intravenously or subcutaneosly.
- Conjugated pneumococcal vaccine, conjugated haemophilus influenza B and conjugated meningococcal vaccine administered to prevent infections.
- Prohphylactic antibiotics can be used for recurrent sinopulmonary infections:
- Treatment of the infections with the appropriate antibiotics.
- Treatment of atopic diseases such as allergic rhinitis with antihistamines can help in reducing sinopulmonary infections.
Surgical intervention is not recommended for the management of IgM deficiency.
There are no established measures for the primary prevention of IgM deficiency.
- Secondary prevention includes prevention of infections by:
- Avoidance- reduce exposure to others with potentially contagious illnesses, proper hand washing and immunization of family members and close contacts.
- Vaccination with conjugate vaccines -conjugated pneumococcal vaccine, conjugated haemophillus influenza B and conjugated meningococcal vaccine administered to prevent infections.
- Use of prophylactic broad spectrum antibiotics.
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