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Highly Accessed Review

Common variable immunodeficiency - an update

Ulrich Salzer12, Klaus Warnatz12 and Hans Hartmut Peter12*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre of Chronic Immunodeficiency, University Medical Centre Freiburg, Engesserstr. 4, D-79108 Freiburg i. Breisgau, Germany

2 Department of Rheumatology, University Medical Centre Freiburg, Hugstetterstr. 55, D-79106 Freiburg i. Breisgau, Germany

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:223  doi:10.1186/ar4032

Published: 24 September 2012

Abstract

Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) describes a heterogeneous subset of hypogammaglobulinemias of unknown etiology. Typically, patients present with recurrent bacterial infections of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract. A significant proportion of CVID patients develops additional autoimmune, inflammatory or lymphoproliferative complications. CVID is the most frequent symptomatic primary immunodeficiency encountered in adults. Informative monogenetic defects have been found in single patients and families but in most cases the pathogenesis is still elusive. Numerous immunological studies have demonstrated phenotypic and functional abnormalities of T cells, B cells and antigen-presenting cells. A hallmark is the impaired memory B-cell formation that has been taken advantage of for classifying CVID patients. Clinical multi-center studies have demonstrated a correlation between immunological markers and clinical presentation. Long-term outcome is significantly influenced by delay of diagnosis and treatment and the presence of chronic inflammatory complications. While immunoglobulin replacement therapy plus antibiotics can control infections in most cases, patients with non-infectious inflammatory complications such as granulomatous inflammation, interstitial lung disease, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoproliferation and developing malignancies still represent a therapeutic challenge. In this review we provide a systematic overview of the immunological, clinical, diagnostic and therapeutic aspects of CVID and highlight recent developments in these fields.