How Do Immune Globulins Work?

Reviewed on 7/27/2021


Immune globulins (also called gamma globulin or immunoglobulin) are made from human blood plasma. The plasma processed from donated human blood contains antibodies (substances made by the body’s immune system in response to bacteria, viruses, fungus, or cancer cells) that protect the body against diseases. These immune globulins are collected from the pooled blood of donors and purified to prevent the passage of diseases to the person who receives them. This therapy is useful in people with weakened immune systems to fight in the following cases: thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count), postexposure prophylaxis in certain serious viral infections (cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, measles, tetanus, and rubella), hemolytic disease, neurological diseases, organ transplantations, etc.

Over the course of life, the body produces thousands of different antibodies as and when exposed to different infectious organisms that the body considers to be "foreign."

The five major types of antibodies are:

  • IgA: found in the nose, breathing passages, digestive tract, ears, eyes, and vagina. Approximately 10% to 15% of the antibodies present in the body are IgA antibodies.
  • IgG: found in all the body fluids and is the most commonly found antibody (75% to 80% of all the antibodies in the body). These are the only type of antibodies that can cross the placenta in a pregnant woman to help protect their baby.
  • IgM: found in the blood and lymph fluid and is the first type of antibody made in response to an infection, approximately 5% to 10% of all antibodies in the body.
  • IgE: found in the lungs, skin, and mucous membranes. IgE antibody levels are often high in people with allergies and involved in allergic reactions to milk, some medicines, and poisons.
  • IgD: found in small amounts in the tissues that line the abdomen or chest
  • Immunoglobulins are prescription-only medicines and are administered via intravenous route (through a vein) in an infusion that usually takes one to four hours and intramuscular route (injected into a muscle).

Immunoglobulins work in the following ways:

  • They are made from healthy human blood that has a high level of certain defensive substances (antibodies) that help fight off infections during the transplant process, as the body's defense system (immune system) is weakened to prevent the body from attacking (rejecting) the new organ as the immune system treats the new organ as an invader.
  • They reduce the body’s natural defense system which helps in preventing the body from rejecting the kidney transplant so that it can work normally.
  • Immunoglobulin provides short-term protection against or reduces the severity of certain diseases.
  • They decrease the immune system’s ability to attack body tissues in some cases of autoimmune diseases (a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells in the body).
  • In addition, they help in conditions wherein there is an inherited inability to produce antibodies or those who are having treatment for certain types of cancer.


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Immune globulins are used in conditions such as:


Common side effects include:


Other rare side effects include:


Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.


Generic and brand names of immune globulins include:


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