Fc Receptors

  • Falk Nimmerjahn
  • Jeffrey V. Ravetch


An immune response is characterized by a delicate balance; strong enough to eliminate foreign pathogens but at the same time well controlled and highly specific to prevent destruction of self-tissues. Antibodies are essential to defend the body against invading microorganisms and antibodies bound to their respective antigen in the form of immune complexes (IC) have long been recognized to be potent inflammatory stimuli. The existence of cellular receptors for antibodies was anticipated as early as 1960 (Boyden and Sorkin 1960). Starting with the molecular cloning of cellular receptors for IgG and IgE, subsequently Fc receptors (FcR) for all antibody isotypes (IgM, IgA, IgD, IgE, and IgG) have been identified (Ravetch 2003). Fc receptors are widely expressed throughout the hematopoietic system and are essential regulators of immune cell activation. By recognizing the Fc portion of antibodies in immune complexes, Fc receptors link ancestral pathways of innate immunity to the specificity of the adaptive immune system. Their cellular expression pattern on myeloid effector cells, mast cells and B cells predicted their involvement in different types of inflammatory responses, allergy and B-cell regulation. Indeed, effector mechanisms shown to be triggered by FcR crosslinking include antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), phagocytosis, release of inflammatory mediators and antigen presentation (Ravetch 2003). Moreover, the potent immunoregulatory functions of ICs (consisting of IgG or IgM antibodies), ranging from a strong enhancement to complete suppression of antibody responses in addition to their more overt role as effector molecules for the elimination of foreign antigens, can now be ascribed to specific FcRs (Heyman 2000).


Antibody Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity Antibody Isotype Arthus Reaction Balance Immune Response Allergic Effector Cell 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Falk Nimmerjahn
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeffrey V. Ravetch
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular Genetics and ImmunologyRockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Laboratory of Experimental Immunology and ImmunotherapyUniversity of Erlangen-Nuernberg, Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Center for Molecular MedicineErlangenGermany

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