IgA Function in Relation to the Intestinal Microbiota

Annu Rev Immunol. 2018 Apr 26;36:359-381. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-042617-053238. Epub 2018 Jan 26.


IgA is the dominant immunoglobulin isotype produced in mammals, largely secreted across the intestinal mucosal surface. Although induction of IgA has been a hallmark feature of microbiota colonization following colonization in germ-free animals, until recently appreciation of the function of IgA in host-microbial mutualism has depended mainly on indirect evidence of alterations in microbiota composition or penetration of microbes in the absence of somatic mutations in IgA (or compensatory IgM). Highly parallel sequencing techniques that enable high-resolution analysis of either microbial consortia or IgA sequence diversity are now giving us new perspectives on selective targeting of microbial taxa and the trajectory of IgA diversification according to induction mechanisms, between different individuals and over time. The prospects are to link the range of diversified IgA clonotypes to specific antigenic functions in modulating the microbiota composition, position and metabolism to ensure host mutualism.

Keywords: IgA; antibody binding; childhood enteropathy; early-life immunity; immunoglobulin repertoire; intestinal inflammation; microbiota.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Protein Binding


  • Immunoglobulin A