Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID)

Common variable immune deficiency (CVID), also known as humoral immunodeficiency, is a disorder of the immune system characterized by reduced serum levels of immunoglobulins Immunoglobulins Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins G, A, and M. The underlying causes of CVID are largely unknown. Patients with this condition are prone to infections in the gastrointestinal tract and the upper and lower respiratory tracts. CVID is also associated with a higher risk of developing autoimmune disorders, granulomatous diseases, and malignancy.

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Epidemiology

  • Incidence: 1:10,000 to 1:50,000
  • The largest group of symptomatic primary immunodeficiencies in adults
  • Age of onset in most patients between 20 and 30 years
  • Equal incidence between genders
  • The median age of death from CVID is 44 years (for females) and 42 years (for males).

Etiology and Pathophysiology

Etiology

  • Exact cause unknown
  • Most cases are sporadic.
  • Genetic mutations account for 10% of cases; however, a monogenic cause cannot be established in the majority of cases.
    • Linked to mutations in genes that encode cell surface proteins, cytokine receptors, and major histocompatibility complex
    • Familial inheritance accounts for 10%–25%.
    • X-linked, autosomal dominant Autosomal dominant Autosomal inheritance, both dominant and recessive, refers to the transmission of genes from the 22 autosomal chromosomes. Autosomal dominant diseases are expressed when only 1 copy of the dominant allele is inherited. Autosomal Recessive and Autosomal Dominant Inheritance, and recessive patterns have been documented.

Pathophysiology

  • B cells B cells B lymphocytes, also known as B cells, are important components of the adaptive immune system. In the bone marrow, the hematopoietic stem cells go through a series of steps to become mature naive B cells. The cells migrate to secondary lymphoid organs for activation and further maturation. B Cells are phenotypically normal but unable to develop into immunoglobulin (Ig)-secreting plasma cells, leading to insufficient amounts of antibodies Antibodies Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins:
    • IgG: long-term immunity
    • IgA: secretory immunity
    • IgM: acute immune response against infections (in 50% of cases this immunoglobulin is deficient)
  • Lack of Ig increases the patient’s risk for recurrent infections and developing impaired immune responses, such as autoimmune diseases, granulomatous disease, and malignancy.
  • Most often, CVID patients are infected by Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus Staphylococcus Staphylococcus is a medically important genera of Gram-positive, aerobic cocci. These bacteria form clusters resembling grapes on culture plates. Staphylococci are ubiquitous for humans, and many strains compose the normal skin flora. Staphylococcus aureus.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Recurrent, mostly bacterial, infections (most commonly pyogenic lung and sinus infections and persistent diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea)
  • Autoimmune disorders (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a symmetric, inflammatory polyarthritis and chronic, progressive, autoimmune disorder. Presentation occurs most commonly in middle-aged women with joint swelling, pain, and morning stiffness (often in the hands). Rheumatoid Arthritis, psoriasis Psoriasis Psoriasis is a common T-cell-mediated inflammatory skin condition. The etiology is unknown, but is thought to be due to genetic inheritance and environmental triggers. There are 4 major subtypes, with the most common form being chronic plaque psoriasis. Psoriasis, autoimmune hemolytic anemia Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) is a rare type of hemolytic anemia characterized by antibody production against self RBCs, leading to destruction of these cells in the spleen and other reticuloendothelial tissues. The disease is generally categorized as warm or cold, depending on the thermal reactivity of the autoantibodies. Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia, type 1 diabetes mellitus Diabetes mellitus Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disease characterized by hyperglycemia and dysfunction of the regulation of glucose metabolism by insulin. Type 1 DM is diagnosed mostly in children and young adults as the result of autoimmune destruction of β cells in the pancreas and the resulting lack of insulin. Type 2 DM has a significant association with obesity and is characterized by insulin resistance. Diabetes Mellitus, lupus, vitiligo Vitiligo Vitiligo is the most common depigmenting disorder and is caused by the destruction of melanocytes. Patients present with hypo- or depigmented macules or patches which often occur on the face, hands, knees, and/or genitalia. Vitiligo)
  • Granulomatous disease (granulomas in the lungs Lungs Lungs are the main organs of the respiratory system. Lungs are paired viscera located in the thoracic cavity and are composed of spongy tissue. The primary function of the lungs is to oxygenate blood and eliminate CO2. Lungs, lymph nodes, skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Structure and Function of the Skin, and GI tract that resemble sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis is a multisystem inflammatory disease that causes noncaseating granulomas. The exact etiology is unknown. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lungs and thoracic lymph nodes, but it can also affect almost every system in the body, including the skin, heart, and eyes, most commonly. Sarcoidosis on histologic examination)
  • Lymphoid hyperplasia ( lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly Splenomegaly Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections, hemoglobinopathies, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein. Splenomegaly, and hepatomegaly)
  • High risk of malignancy (commonly associated with lymphoma, gastric, breast, colon Colon The large intestines constitute the last portion of the digestive system. The large intestine consists of the cecum, appendix, colon (with ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid segments), rectum, and anal canal. The primary function of the colon is to remove water and compact the stool prior to expulsion from the body via the rectum and anal canal. Colon, Cecum, and Appendix, prostate Prostate The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. The gland surrounds the bladder neck and a portion of the urethra. The prostate is an exocrine gland that produces a weakly acidic secretion, which accounts for roughly 20% of the seminal fluid. Prostate and other Male Reproductive Glands, and ovarian cancer Ovarian cancer Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor arising from the ovarian tissue and is classified according to the type of tissue from which it originates. The 3 major types of ovarian cancer are epithelial ovarian carcinomas (EOCs), ovarian germ cell tumors (OGCTs), and sex cord-stromal tumors (SCSTs). Ovarian Cancer)
  • Miscellaneous symptoms (abdominal cramps, constipation Constipation Constipation is common and may be due to a variety of causes. Constipation is generally defined as bowel movement frequency < 3 times per week. Patients who are constipated often strain to pass hard stools. The condition is classified as primary (also known as idiopathic or functional constipation) or secondary, and as acute or chronic. Constipation, malabsorption Malabsorption Malabsorption involves many disorders in which there is an inability of the gut to absorb nutrients from dietary intake, potentially including water and/or electrolytes. A closely related term, maldigestion is the inability to break down large molecules of food into their smaller constituents. Malabsorption and maldigestion can affect macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), or both. Malabsorption and Maldigestion, weight loss, anxiety, depression, and severe lethargy)

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is difficult because of the diversity of phenotypes.

  • Clinical history
    • Note type of frequency of infections and family history (especially looking for history of antibody deficiency)
    • Suspect CVID if patients present with a history of recurrent infections, autoimmune disorder, granulomatous disease, or a lymphocytic malignancy and the following physical signs suggestive of CVID:
      • Abdomen: abdominal pain Pain Pain has accompanied humans since they first existed, first lamented as the curse of existence and later understood as an adaptive mechanism that ensures survival. Pain is the most common symptomatic complaint and the main reason why people seek medical care. Physiology of Pain, chronic/bloody diarrhea Diarrhea Diarrhea is defined as ≥ 3 watery or loose stools in a 24-hour period. There are a multitude of etiologies, which can be classified based on the underlying mechanism of disease. The duration of symptoms (acute or chronic) and characteristics of the stools (e.g., watery, bloody, steatorrheic, mucoid) can help guide further diagnostic evaluation. Diarrhea, hepatosplenomegaly
      • Head and neck: alopecia Alopecia Alopecia is the loss of hair in areas anywhere on the body where hair normally grows. Alopecia may be defined as scarring or non-scarring, localized or diffuse, congenital or acquired, reversible or permanent, or confined to the scalp or universal; however, alopecia is usually classified using the 1st 3 factors. Alopecia, lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy
      • Respiratory: bronchiectasis Bronchiectasis Bronchiectasis is a chronic disease of the airways that results from permanent bronchial distortion. This results from a continuous cycle of inflammation, bronchial damage and dilation, impaired clearance of secretions, and recurrent infections. Bronchiectasis, cough, dyspnea Dyspnea Dyspnea is the subjective sensation of breathing discomfort. Dyspnea is a normal manifestation of heavy physical or psychological exertion, but also may be caused by underlying conditions (both pulmonary and extrapulmonary). Dyspnea, pleuritic chest pain Chest Pain Chest pain is one of the most common and challenging complaints that may present in an inpatient and outpatient setting. The differential diagnosis of chest pain is large and includes cardiac, gastrointestinal, pulmonary, musculoskeletal, and psychiatric etiologies. Chest Pain
      • Skin: actinic keratosis Actinic keratosis Actinic keratosis (AK) is a precancerous skin lesion that affects sun-exposed areas. The condition presents as small, non-tender macules/papules with a characteristic sandpaper-like texture that can become erythematous scaly plaques. Actinic Keratosis (AK), atopic dermatitis Atopic Dermatitis Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic, relapsing, pruritic, inflammatory skin disease that occurs more frequently in children, although adults can also be affected. The condition is often associated with elevated serum levels of IgE and a personal or family history of atopy. Skin dryness, erythema, oozing, crusting, and lichenification are present. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), eczema Eczema Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic, relapsing, pruritic, inflammatory skin disease that occurs more frequently in children, although adults can also be affected. The condition is often associated with elevated serum levels of IgE and a personal or family history of atopy. Skin dryness, erythema, oozing, crusting, and lichenification are present. Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema), mollusca contagiosum, hyperpigmentation, petechiae, skin Skin The skin, also referred to as the integumentary system, is the largest organ of the body. The skin is primarily composed of the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (deep layer). The epidermis is primarily composed of keratinocytes that undergo rapid turnover, while the dermis contains dense layers of connective tissue. Structure and Function of the Skin cancers, vitiligo Vitiligo Vitiligo is the most common depigmenting disorder and is caused by the destruction of melanocytes. Patients present with hypo- or depigmented macules or patches which often occur on the face, hands, knees, and/or genitalia. Vitiligo
      • Systemic: signs of malnutrition Malnutrition Malnutrition is a clinical state caused by an imbalance or deficiency of calories and/or micronutrients and macronutrients. The 2 main manifestations of acute severe malnutrition are marasmus (total caloric insufficiency) and kwashiorkor (protein malnutrition with characteristic edema). Malnutrition in children in resource-limited countries, weight loss
    • Need to exclude secondary causes of antibody deficiency, hypogammaglobulinemia, T-cell deficiencies, and other primary immunodeficiencies (see table below)
  • Laboratory findings
    • Marked decrease in IgG (and its subclasses), IgA, and IgM (some cases of CVID will not have diminished IgM but all will have decreased IgG and IgA)
    • Poor antibody response to vaccines ( tetanus Tetanus Tetanus is a bacterial infection caused by Clostridium tetani, a gram-positive obligate anaerobic bacterium commonly found in soil that enters the body through a contaminated wound. C. tetani produces a neurotoxin that blocks the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters and causes prolonged tonic muscle contractions. Tetanus and pneumococcal vaccines)
    • Low plasma cell levels
  • Can test for specific gene mutations (but not necessary for diagnosis)
  • In addition, assessment of comorbid conditions:
    • High-resolution computed tomography scanning to detect lung damage
    • Culture and sensitivity testing to identify causative organisms and guide antibiotic therapy of recurrent infections
    • Biopsy and histologic examination of suspicious lesions to rule out lymphomas
Differential diagnosis of hypogammaglobulinemia
CVID can only be diagnosed by excluding secondary or other primary causes for the clinical picture of hypogammaglobulinemia.
Differential diagnosis Examples Suggested procedures and tests
Secondary antibody deficiency
Systemic disorders: Excessive loss of Igs (e.g., nephrosis, protein-losing enteropathy, severe burns Burns A burn is a type of injury to the skin and deeper tissues caused by exposure to heat, electricity, chemicals, friction, or radiation. Burns are classified according to their depth as superficial (1st-degree), partial-thickness (2nd-degree), full-thickness (3rd-degree), and 4th-degree burns. Burns)
  • Clinical history and presentation
  • Urine analysis for protein
Hypercatabolism of Ig (e.g., proximal myotonic myopathy)
  • Clinical history and presentation
  • Genetic testing
Malignancy:
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a hematologic malignancy characterized by excess production of monoclonal B lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. When the involvement is primarily nodal, the condition is called small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). The disease usually presents in older adults, with a median age of 70 years. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
  • Immunodeficiency with thymoma (Good’s syndrome)
  • Non-Hodgkin’s B cell lymphoma
  • Myeloma
  • Clinical history and presentation
  • Bone marrow Bone marrow Bone marrow, the primary site of hematopoiesis, is found in the cavities of cancellous bones and the medullary canals of long bones. There are 2 types: red marrow (hematopoietic with abundant blood cells) and yellow marrow (predominantly filled with adipocytes). Composition of Bone Marrow biopsy
  • Immunofixation electropheresis
  • Diagnostic imaging
Drug induced:
  • Anticonvulsants (e.g., carpamazepine, phenytoin)
  • Gold salts
  • Glucocorticoids Glucocorticoids Glucocorticoids are a class within the corticosteroid family. Glucocorticoids are chemically and functionally similar to endogenous cortisol. There are a wide array of indications, which primarily benefit from the antiinflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of this class of drugs. Glucocorticoids
  • D-pericillamine
  • Antimalarial agents
  • Methotrexate
Clinical and medication history
Infectious diseases:
  • Epstein-Barr virus Epstein-Barr Virus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)
  • Congenital infections with rubella Rubella Rubella (also known as German measles or three-day measles) is caused by a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus of the Togaviridae family. Rubella only infects humans and spreads prenatally via vertical transmission or postnatally via droplet contact. Congenital rubella is associated with a classic triad of symptoms: cataracts, cardiac defects, and deafness. Infection in children and adults may be mild and present with constitutional symptoms along with a viral exanthem. Rubella Virus, cytomegalovirus Cytomegalovirus CMV is a ubiquitous double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. CMV infections can be transmitted in bodily fluids, such as blood, saliva, urine, semen, and breast milk. The initial infection is usually asymptomatic in the immunocompetent host, or it can present with symptoms of mononucleosis. Cytomegalovirus, or toxoplasma Toxoplasma Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, an obligate intracellular protozoan parasite. Felines are the definitive host, but transmission to humans can occur through contact with cat feces or the consumption of contaminated foods. The clinical presentation and complications depend on the host's immune status. Toxoplasma/Toxoplasmosis gondii
Direct testing for antigen (EUSA and PCR, serology of any kind is of limited or no value in patients with antibody deficiency)
Other primary immunodeficiencies:
  • X-linked agammaglobulinemia X-linked agammaglobulinemia X-linked agammaglobulinemia, also known as Bruton's agammaglobulinemia or Bruton's disease, is a rare, recessive genetic disorder characterized by the improper development of B cells, leading to a lack of mature B cells capable of responding to stimulation by cell-mediated immune responses or certain antigen-presenting cells. X-linked Agammaglobulinemia
  • Hyper IgM syndromes
  • Ataxia telangiectasia
  • Late-onset adenosine deaminase deficiency
  • Atypical forms of severe combined immunodeficiency Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), also called "bubble boy disease," is a rare genetic disorder in which the development of functional B and T cells is disturbed due to several genetic mutations that result in reduced or absent immune function. Severe Combined Immunodeficiency disease
  • X-linked lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV associated)
  • Chromosomal anomalies (e.g., chromosome 18q-syndrome, monosomy 22)
  • Clinical and family history
  • Mode of inheritance
  • Ig levels in serum
  • Lymphocyte phenotype and function in vitro
  • Genetic testing
  • Karyotyping
Table: Daniel Myrtek, PhD, and Ulrich Salzer, MD (2008). Common Variable Variable Variables represent information about something that can change. The design of the measurement scales, or of the methods for obtaining information, will determine the data gathered and the characteristics of that data. As a result, a variable can be qualitative or quantitative, and may be further classified into subgroups. Types of Variables Immunodeficiency.

Summary of findings needed for diagnosis

  • At least one of the following:
    • Increased susceptibility to infections
    • Autoimmune disease manifestations
    • Granulomatous disease
    • Unexplained polyclonal lymphoproliferation
    • Family history of antibody deficiency
  • AND marked decrease of IgG and IgA +/- decreases in IgM
  • AND at least one of the following:
    • Poor immunological response to vaccines
    • Low plasma cell levels
  • AND secondary causes of hypogammaglobulinemia excluded
  • AND diagnosis established after age four
  • AND no evidence of T cell deficiency

Management

  • Ig replacement therapy replenishes Ig isotypes either intravenously, subcutaneously, or, rarely, intramuscularly.
    • Side effects: swelling at the insertion site, chills, headache, nausea, fatigue, fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, and hives Hives Urticaria is raised, well-circumscribed areas (wheals) of edema (swelling) and erythema (redness) involving the dermis and epidermis with associated pruritus (itch). Urticaria is not a single disease but rather is a reaction pattern representing cutaneous mast cell degranulation. Urticaria (Hives)
  • Immunosuppressants Immunosuppressants Immunosuppressants are a class of drugs widely used in the management of autoimmune conditions and organ transplant rejection. The general effect is dampening of the immune response. Immunosuppressants can also be used to control autoimmune symptoms.
  • Antibiotic and/or antifungal therapy for infections
  • Short-term corticosteroid therapy may prevent non-anaphylactic reactions (common in this condition).

Differential Diagnosis

Congenital B-cell immunodeficiencies:

  • X-linked agammaglobulinemia X-linked agammaglobulinemia X-linked agammaglobulinemia, also known as Bruton's agammaglobulinemia or Bruton's disease, is a rare, recessive genetic disorder characterized by the improper development of B cells, leading to a lack of mature B cells capable of responding to stimulation by cell-mediated immune responses or certain antigen-presenting cells. X-linked Agammaglobulinemia: also known as Bruton’s agammaglobulinemia, a recessive genetic disorder characterized by the improper development of B cells B cells B lymphocytes, also known as B cells, are important components of the adaptive immune system. In the bone marrow, the hematopoietic stem cells go through a series of steps to become mature naive B cells. The cells migrate to secondary lymphoid organs for activation and further maturation. B Cells from immature to mature cells
  • Selective IgA deficiency Selective IgA Deficiency Selective immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency is the most common type of primary immunodeficiency. The condition is a hypogammaglobulinemia characterized by a lack or reduced levels of IgA. This antibody mainly resides in the mucous membranes of the mouth, airways, and digestive tract. Selective IgA Deficiency: the most common primary immunodeficiency, characterized by an undetectable serum IgA level in the presence of normal serum levels of IgG and IgM in patients older than 4 years

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