The role of secretory antibodies in infection immunity

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Sep;8(9):656-67. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2384. Epub 2010 Aug 9.


The mucosal secretory immune system provides an important primary defence against disease, as studies of humans with mucosal humoral immunodeficiencies suggest that the absence of secretory immunoglobulin A leads to an increase in mucosal infections. However, the infection risks posed do not seem to provide the evolutionary drive to retain constitutive secretion of often 'hard won' protein, suggesting that secretory antibodies may have some other important function (or functions). This Review examines the evidence that secretory antibodies provide an important defence against infection in specific animal models and explores complementary explanations for the evolution of the secretory immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Mucosal*
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / genetics
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / immunology*
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / immunology
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / microbiology
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / virology
  • Mice
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology
  • Mucous Membrane / virology


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory