What is immunoglobulin?

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Immunoglobulin (IG)

Immunoglobulin (also called immune globulin or gamma globulin) is a protein in human blood and tissue fluids. These proteins are also called antibodies, which help the body's immune system recognize and destroy foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses.

Immunoglobulin (IG) may be given to help prevent an illness after exposure to an infected person. It can also be given to people with certain immune system deficiencies to prevent infections. Immunoglobulin is usually taken from the blood of people recovering from the illness. For example, the immunoglobulin given to help prevent hepatitis A infection is taken from the blood of people who are recovering from hepatitis A virus infection.

The protection provided by an immunoglobulin injection lasts from days to months, depending on the disease.

What is immunoglobulin?

Immunoglobulin (also called gamma globulin or immune globulin) is a substance made from human blood plasma. The plasma, processed from donated human blood, contains antibodies that protect the body against diseases. When you are given an immunoglobulin, your body uses antibodies from other people's blood plasma to help prevent illness. And even though immunoglobulins are obtained from blood, they are purified so that they can't pass on diseases to the person who receives them.

Why is immunoglobulin used?

Specific types of immunoglobulin are made to protect against specific diseases. Immunoglobulin injections may:

  • Give short-term protection against or reduce the severity of certain diseases.
  • Protect your fetus if you are pregnant and at risk for Rh sensitization.
  • Decrease the immune system's ability to attack body tissues in some cases of autoimmune disease.
  • Help people who have an inherited problem making their own antibodies or those who are having treatment for certain types of cancer (such as leukemia). Treatments for some cancers can cause the body to stop producing its own antibodies, making immunoglobulin treatment necessary.

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