Novel functions of the polymeric Ig receptor: well beyond transport of immunoglobulins

Trends Immunol. 2003 Feb;24(2):55-8. doi: 10.1016/s1471-4906(02)00031-5.


The polymeric Ig receptor (pIgR) ensures efficient secretion of polymeric IgA (pIgA) at mucosal surfaces. On basal to apical transport across epithelial cells, the pIgR extracellular domain is cleaved, releasing secretory component (SC) in association with pIgA. This finds its raison d'être in the recent observation that SC is directly involved in the protective function of secretory IgA. In addition, free SC exhibits scavenger properties with respect to enteric pathogens. However, although pIgR dedicates its life to mucosal protection, it also seems to permit pathogen entrance through the epithelial barrier. The multiple mechanisms that they are involved in make pIgR and SC instrumental to mucosal immunity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epithelium / immunology
  • Epithelium / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological
  • Mucous Membrane / immunology
  • Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin / metabolism*
  • Secretory Component / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory
  • Receptors, Polymeric Immunoglobulin
  • Secretory Component
  • polymeric IgA