Microbial ecology perturbation in human IgA deficiency

Sci Transl Med. 2018 May 2;10(439):eaan1217. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aan1217.


Paradoxically, loss of immunoglobulin A (IgA), one of the most abundant antibodies, does not irrevocably lead to severe infections in humans but rather is associated with relatively mild respiratory infections, atopy, and autoimmunity. IgA might therefore also play covert roles, not uniquely associated with control of pathogens. We show that human IgA deficiency is not associated with massive quantitative perturbations of gut microbial ecology. Metagenomic analysis highlights an expected pathobiont expansion but a less expected depletion in some typically beneficial symbionts. Gut colonization by species usually present in the oropharynx is also reminiscent of spatial microbiota disorganization. IgM only partially rescues IgA deficiency because not all typical IgA targets are efficiently bound by IgM in the intestinal lumen. Together, IgA appears to play a nonredundant role at the forefront of the immune/microbial interface, away from the intestinal barrier, ranging from pathobiont control and regulation of systemic inflammation to preservation of commensal diversity and community networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • IgA Deficiency / immunology*
  • IgA Deficiency / microbiology*
  • Immunoglobulin A / metabolism
  • Immunoglobulin M / metabolism
  • Microbiota / physiology


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin M