The Immunoregulatory Roles of Antibody Glycosylation

Trends Immunol. 2017 May;38(5):358-372. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2017 Apr 3.


Beyond their role in neutralization, antibodies mediate functions such as phagocytosis, cytotoxicity, and maintenance of immune homeostasis. Two modifications to the constant domain control antibody activity: theirreversible genomic selection of isotype/subclass and alterations in glycosylation. Because glycosylation alters the affinity of antibodies for Fc receptors, evidence suggests that glycosylation is a central mechanism for the immune system to tune a broad range of biological activities. While monoclonal therapeutics have exploited glycosylation to improve function, its in vivo control and whether it may be selectively harnessed to target pathogens and/or tumors isunknown. Here, we review the process of antibody glycosylation, how it changes with disease, how it impacts antibody functionality, and the potential for deliberately controlling this biological activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Glycosylation
  • Humans
  • Immune System / immunology*
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / metabolism
  • Models, Immunological
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / immunology*
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology*
  • Receptors, Fc / metabolism


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Polysaccharides
  • Receptors, Fc