Immunoglobulin A

Immunoglobulin A:

Immunoglobulin A

Immunoglobulin A is a protein that functions as an antibody and is produced by plasma cells and lymphocytes. Immunoglobulins play a crucial role in the body immune’s system as they attach themselves to foreign substances like bacteria and help in destroying them. Immunoglobulins can resides either on the peripherals of the cells or can circulate freely in the blood. When circulating the immunoglobulins are termed as antibodies.

abbreviated as Ig are of different types called isotypes and there are five Immunoglobulin Isotypes namely IgAIgDIgEIgG and IgM. These varied types of Immunoglobulins have different biological properties, functional locations and the ability to with different kinds of antigens.

Immunoglobulin A Or Iga

IgA is mainly found in the mucosal area like in the gut, saliva, tears, breast milk, respiratory tract and the urogenital tract and helps in preventing colonization by pathogens. IgA is found in two isotypes IgA 1 and IgA2, both these isotypes are glycosylated proteins and while IgA1 is predominantly found in serum and are called Serum IgA, IgA2 is mainly found in the secretions and is termed Secretory IgA2.

IgA antibodies constitute 10 to 15% of the total antibodies. These antibodies are produced by the immune system in response to the presence of varied bacteria, virus or disease in the body. However, due certain health conditions some people are not able to produce or produce very low amount of IgA antibodies resulting in IgA deficiency, which can result in autoimmune disorders, leukemia, kidney disease and intestinal diseases; while in some people due to certain health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, cirrhosis and hepatitis, the IgA antibodies levels are too high. This could be an indication of monoclonal Gammopathy that can transform in to a type of cancer called multiple myeloma.

What Is Iga Test/ What Is Immunoglobulin A Test?

The Immunoglobulin Test or IgA test measures the amount of IgA antibodies in the blood. The IgA test can also be used for the screening of some autoimmune disorders and cancers. However, IgA tests are not too specific meaning they cannot pinpoint the cause of the IgA level fluctuations and is only used to assess the levels of antibodies and various other tests are used to together with it to find the root cause of the problem.

Iga Pathology

Autoimmune and immune – mediated

IgA nephropathy – is caused due to IgA deposits in the kidney.

Celiac Disease – is caused by the presence of IgA antiendomysial antibodies

Henoch – Schonlein purpura (HSP) – it is a systemic disorder caused by IgA and complement component 3 deposits in the small vessels.

Linear IgA disease – Linear IgA disease is an IgA mediated immunoblots diseases

When Do You Take Iga Test?

The Immunoglobulin Test is often advised by a doctor if the person is found to have infections, especially infection of the sinuses, lungs, stomach or intestines. The IgA test is also given in the following conditions;

  • Persistent Diarrheic
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fevers having no relatable causes
  • Skin rashes
  • Allergies
  • Illness after travelling
  • HIV/AIDS or multiple myeloma
  • IgA nephropathy symptoms

Iga Test Procedure

IgA test is performed to assess the immune function. The test requires blood samples to be drawn out from the veins of the forearm.

No special requirement is needed for the test.

Immunoglobulin A Normal Range

The IgA normal range differs with age and the IgA normal range for an healthy adult is between 80 – 350 mg/dL.

Immunoglobulin A Test Interpretation

If the Immunoglobulin A test shows high level of IgA antibodies then it could be an indication to the following conditions;

  • Allergies
  • Chronic infections
  • Autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid disorder, lupus or celiac disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Cancer such as lymphoma or leukemia

Low levels of IgA  could be indicative of the following conditions;

  • Diabetes Complications
  • Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure

High or low levels of Immunoglobulins does not necessarily mean the presence of any one the above disease and a doctor should be consulted for better interpretation of the test results.

Why Are IgA Tests Done?

Doctors may order an IgA test to diagnose problems with the immune system, intestines, and kidneys. They’re also done for kids who have recurrent infections. These tests can check for autoimmune conditions in which the body mistakenly makes antibodies against healthy tissues, such as arthritislupus, and celiac disease. Kids born with low levels of IgA — or none at all — are at higher risk for autoimmune conditions, infections, asthma, and allergies.

What is IgA deficiency?

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody blood protein that’s part of your immune system. Your body makes IgA and other type of antibodies to help fight off sickness. Having an IgA deficiency means that you have low levels of or no IgA in your blood.

IgA is found in mucous membranes, mainly in the respiratory and digestive tracts. It is also found saliva, tears, and breastmilk. A deficiency seems to play a part in asthma and allergies. Researchers have also linked IgA deficiency to autoimmune health problems. These are health problems that cause your body’s immune system to attack your body by mistake.

What causes IgA deficiency?

IgA deficiency is a health problem that is passed down through families in about 1 in 5 cases. This means it is genetic. In rare cases, it can be caused by medicines you are taking.

What are the symptoms of IgA deficiency?

Most people with an IgA deficiency don’t have any symptoms of the health problem. It’s usually found on a blood test, if it’s found at all. About 1 in 4 to 1 in 2people with selective IgA deficiency will be affected. Some people with an IgA deficiency are more likely to get frequent infections. These can include sinus, lung, and digestive infections. Some people with IgA deficiency also are more likely to have allergies, and digestive and autoimmune problems such as celiac disease or lupus.

What are the complications of IgA deficiency?

Potential complications can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sinusitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Eye infection
  • Ear infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Skin infection
  • Asthma
  • Allergic reactions to blood or blood product transfusions

Can IgA deficiency be prevented?

IgA deficiency is a problem that may be passed down through your family, so you can’t do anything to prevent it. But you can limit the spread of germs and sickness by washing your hands often and staying away from large crowds. This is especially true during cold and flu season. Also talk with your healthcare provider about vaccines that may help prevent illness and when you should get them.

If you have IgA deficiency and are worried about the risks of passing it on to your children, talk with a genetic counselor.

Key points

  • Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antibody that’s part of your immune system. IgA is found in mucous membranes, especially in the respiratory and digestive tracts. It is also found in saliva, tears, and breastmilk.
  • IgA deficiency is a genetic health problem that can be passed down through families.
  • Most people with an IgA deficiency don’t have any symptoms.
  • There is no cure for IgA deficiency. Immunotherapy does not work to treat it.
  • Complications for IgA deficiency include asthma, diarrhea, ear and eye infections, autoimmune diseases, and pneumonia.
  • You can limit the spread of germs and illnesses by washing your hands often and staying away from large crowds.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.
  • Bring someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells you.
  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know what the side effects are.
  • Ask if your condition can be treated in other ways.
  • Know why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
  • Know what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
  • If you have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.
  • Know how you can contact your provider if you have questions.

By Mehfooz Ali

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8 thoughts on “Immunoglobulin A (IgA)”
  1. […] Immunoglobulin D is an ancient biological molecule which evolved and may cooperate functionally with Immunoglobulin M. It is expressed on B-lymphocytes and is secreted into the blood stream. It is produced as a monomeric antibody similar to Immunoglobulin G, and has a half-life of less than 3 days. IgD is involved in various immune related functions including as a “replacement” in certain instances for IgM or IgA in individuals that may have deficiencies in one of these antibody classes. […]

  2. […] Immunoglobulin G is a protein that acts as an antibody and is created by plasma cells and lymphocytes. Immunoglobins assumes a pivotal role in the body’s immune system as they help the body get rid of bacteria and microbes by attaching themselves to such outside substances and eliminating them. Immunoglobins can live either on the peripherals of the cells or can  circulate openly in the blood. It is the circulating immunoglobulins that are termed as antibodies. […]

  3. […] with such RBCs. With which (IgA) antibodies stick. Such RBC is called Sensitized RBC. Although IGA antibodies stick to their specific (Ag) antigen on the cell. But since their size is small and they […]

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