Primary immunodeficiencies comprise many diseases caused by genetic defects primarily affecting the immune system. About 150 such diseases have been identified with more than 120 associated genetic defects. Although primary immunodeficiencies are quite rare in incidence, the prevalence can range from one in 500 to one in 500 000 in the general population, depending on the diagnostic skills and medical resources available in different countries. Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID) is the primary immunodeficiency most commonly encountered in clinical practice, and appropriate diagnosis and management of patients will have a significant effect on morbidity and mortality as well as financial aspects of health care. Advances in diagnostic laboratory methods, including B-cell subset analysis and genetic testing, coupled with new insights into the molecular basis of immune dysfunction in some patients with CVID, have enabled advances in the clinical classification of this heterogeneous disease.
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