John Richard Seavitt
jrseavit at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Jan 17 13:19:01 EST 1998
On 16 Jan 1998, Philip G. Munden wrote:
> Please help me. I'm trying to find out what IGA is.
> When the immunologist talks with her he uses the term IGA.
Briefly, Immunoglobulin-A (IgA) is one of the 'flavors' of antibodies
produced by the B cells of your immune system. Antibodies are proteins
secreted into your blood and tissues that typically have the ability to
bind some specific target very strongly (for example, some infectious
bacteria). Your body makes Really A Lot of antibodies that will all bind
different targets. Antibodies are different from each other not only in
what they bind, but also in certain structural features that will
influence the immune response to whatever they bind. IgA is one of these
'flavors'. Two interesting features of IgA is that it 1) it is found not
only in blood, but also in mucus secretions and 2) it is secreted in
mothers' milk AND absorbed by nursing babies' digestive systems intact.
This latter mechanism is a major contribution of 'adult' immunity to a
baby's immune system.
I'll leave it at that. Someone else might comment on IgA in human
disease. It's sometimes easy for doctors to forget how much even 'simple'
jargon be confusing; but if you keep asking for clarification I'd hope you
could get a more complete answer there (since your doctor knows many more
of the detail of an individual case...)
More information about the Immuno