Sunday, January 8, 2012

What is Globulin?



QUESTION: What is globulin that doctors give to prevent infection?

ANSWER: Globulins are proteins found in the blood stream that contain the
antibodies the immune system uses to fight disease. Immune globulins are not
a recent discovery. They have been studied since the early 1900's, and have
been used to prevent the spread of polio, measles, and hepatitis A. Those
immune globulins were simply a by-product of blood donation, since they are
taken from the plasma of several human donors, concentrated and purified and
contain any antibodies to diseases those donors were exposed to. Specific
immune globulins with high antibody concentrations to certain diseases, such
as rabies, hepatitis B, tetanus, and others, are also widely used. For some
diseases, diphtheria for one, the immune globulins used come from animal

Immune globulins were great breakthroughs in fighting diseases, but they
have some drawbacks. They had to be injected into a muscle, which is painful
and which limits the amount that can be administered, making multiple
injections sometimes necessary.
An intravenous (IV) form of immune globulin has been created that has
several advantages over the intramuscular kind. It can be given more
frequently and in higher amounts, but has the drawbacks of higher cost, the
need for an IV hookup, and a greater risk of side effects.
The chief use for IV immune globulin is in helping people who have
antibody deficiencies and it is also used in treating autoimmune disorders.
Antibody deficiencies are usually inherited deficiencies of the immune system,
but some immune deficiencies are secondary to other diseases. People with
these immune problems are open to almost any infection and immune globulin
gives them the protections they lack.
The most famous immune deficiency is AIDS (it's called acquired immune
deficiency syndrome because it comes from a virus infection and is not
inherited). Immune globulin gives some protection to children with AIDS,
those who contracted it from their mothers during birth, but it does not
appear to help adult AIDS sufferers.
In autoimmune diseases, where the body is attacking itself, IV immune
globulin appears to inhibit some of the body's antibodies. It has been used
to treat a blood condition called thrombocytopenia and has also been tested
with other autoimmune diseases such as myasthenia gravis and systemic lupus