The history of IgG glycosylation and where we are now

Glycobiology. 2020 Mar 20;30(4):202-213. doi: 10.1093/glycob/cwz065.


IgG glycosylation is currently at the forefront of both immunology and glycobiology, likely due in part to the widespread and growing use of antibodies as drugs. For over four decades, it has been recognized that the conserved N-linked glycan on asparagine 297 found within the second Ig domain of the heavy chain (CH2) that helps to comprise Fc region of IgG plays a special role in IgG structure and function. Changes in galactosylation, fucosylation and sialylation are now well-established factors, which drive differential IgG function, ranging from inhibitory/anti-inflammatory to activating complement and promoting antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. Thus, if we are to truly understand how to design and deploy antibody-based drugs with maximal efficacy and evaluate proper vaccine responses from a protective and functional perspective, a deep understanding of IgG glycosylation is essential. This article is intended to provide a comprehensive review of the IgG glycosylation field and the impact glycans have on IgG function, beginning with the earliest findings over 40 years ago, in order to provide a robust foundation for moving forward.

Keywords: IgG; glycan; glycosylation; sialylation.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycosylation
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin G / history*
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Polysaccharides / history*
  • Polysaccharides / immunology*


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Polysaccharides