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Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID)

What is common variable immune deficiency (CVID)?

CVID is a condition under Primary Immunodeficiency Diseases that weakens the immune system. CVID life expectancy varies, though it is not uncommon for patients to live into adulthood. Fortunately, CVID treatment is available to help limit recurrent infections and associated CVID symptoms and help usher people into their later years. Common variable immune deficiency affects about 1 in 25,000 to 1 in 50,000 people throughout the world.

What are symptoms of common variable immune deficiency (CVID)?

While CVID symptoms may begin in childhood or adulthood, CVID increases the likelihood that a person will develop infections from bacteria and viruses. These infections most often affect the ears, sinuses, and lungs. Some potential long-term effects of CVID are ranulomas, enlarged lymph nodes and/or spleen, gastrointestinal inflammation, and chronic lung disease from repeated infections (especially pneumonia). Autoimmune disease, which is when the immune system attacks the body, is common in about 1 in 4 people with CVID. Autoimmune diseases attacking blood cells, specifically immune thrombocytopenia purpura (where having less platelets causes bleeding) and autoimmune hemolytic anemia (where blood cells are destroyed too early), are most common for people with CVID. Rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases are also possible. In addition to this risk, people with CVID have a greater likelihood of certain kinds of cancer, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and stomach cancer.

What causes common variable immune deficiency (CVID)?

While the cause of CVID is largely unknown, many believe a mix of environmental and genetic factors could be involved. So far, research has found a minimum of 10 genes that may be connected with CVID. These gene mutations affect B cells, which are specific white blood cells that normally produce immunoglobulins (antibodies) to mark foreign matter in the blood stream. But in many people with CVID, the B cells don’t make enough antibodies, specifically immunoglobulin A (IgA), immunoglobulin G (IgG), and immunoglobulin M (IgM). One or all three of these antibodies can be lacking, and these deficiencies prevent the immune system from functioning optimally, which leaves the body at risk for serious infections.

Where can I find more information about common variable immune deficiency (CVID)?

Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) Articles