Salivary IgA subclasses and infection risk in elite swimmers

Immunol Cell Biol. 1999 Aug;77(4):351-5. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1711.1999.00839.x.


The concentrations of total IgA, IgA1 and IgA2 were measured in saliva collected from 25 elite swimmers in the early and late phases of a 7 month training season and compared with the number of respiratory infections during the season. The IgA1 concentrations in the early phase of the training season were significantly associated (P = 0.01) with the number of respiratory infection episodes during the training season. The lower the concentration of IgA1, the greater the number of infection episodes. Swimmers with four or more infections during the training season had significantly lower salivary IgA1 concentrations than those with less than four infection episodes (P = 0.01). The proportion of IgA1 in the saliva of the elite swimmers (80%) was higher than for normal non-exercising adults (60%). A small proportion of athletes had salivary IgA2 concentrations below the detection limit of the assay and the mean concentration of IgA2 was significantly lower than the concentrations for a normal adult population (P = 0.01). This study suggests that measurement of IgA subclasses, in particular IgA1, at the commencement of a training season may predict infection risk in elite swimmers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / classification*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / metabolism
  • Infections / etiology*
  • Infections / immunology*
  • Male
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / etiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology
  • Risk Factors
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Swimming / physiology*


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory