Therapies Targeting Autoimmunity

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Traditional therapies for autoimmune neuropathies have proven beneficial for certain types of diabetic neuropathy (94). Plasmaphoresis and steroidal anti-inflammatories should be considered if the diagnosis is proximal diabetic neuropathy (diabetic amyo-trophy) or demyelinating neuropathy. Failure of these treatments or evidence of auto-immunity in typical diabetic polyneuropathy might warrant anti-immune approaches.

Human Intravenous Immunoglobulin

Immune intervention with human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) has become appropriate in some patients with forms of peripheral diabetic neuropathy that are associated with signs of antineuronal autoimmunity (94,95). Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy associated with diabetes is particularly responsive to IVIg infusion. Treatment with immunoglobulin is well tolerated and is considered safe, especially with respect to viral transmission (96). The major toxicity of IVIg has been an anaphylactic reaction, but the frequency of these reactions is now low and confined mainly to patients with immunoglobulin (usually IgA) deficiency. Patients may experience severe headache because of aseptic meningitis, which resolves spontaneously. In some instances, it may be necessary to combine treatment with prednisone and/or azathioprine. Relapses may occur requiring repeated courses of therapy.

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