Protection of Mucosal Epithelia by IgA: Intracellular Neutralization and Excretion of Antigens

  • Michael E. Lamm

Mucosal immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibodies are synthesized by local plasma cells in the lamina propria and are largely destined for export through the lining epithelium into the luminal secretions. Here, IgA antibodies can bind antigens and exclude them from the body, as has long been appreciated. It is becoming increasingly apparent, though, that passage through mucosal epithelium creates additional opportunities for IgA antibodies to function in host defense. For example, IgA antibodies against viruses can directly counter infections within mucosal epithelium, and immune complexes formed in the lamina propria containing locally produced IgA antibodies can pass through the epithelium via the same route and mechanism as free IgA. Thus, IgA antibodies might first encounter antigens in three anatomic compartments in relation to mucosal epithelium: in the lumen, in the epithelium itself, or in the lamina propria (Lamm, 1997). The nonclassical defense functions of IgA, in which IgA antibodies initially bind antigens in the lamina propria or inside the lining epithelial cells, are the focus of this chapter.


Lamina Propria Mucosal Epithelium Secretory Component Mucosal Lamina Propria Human Intestinal Epithelial Cell Line 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael E. Lamm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PathologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

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