Serum IgA Fc effector functions in infectious disease and cancer

Immunol Cell Biol. 2020 Apr;98(4):276-286. doi: 10.1111/imcb.12306. Epub 2020 Jan 19.


Immunoglobulin (Ig) A is the most abundant antibody isotype present at mucosal surfaces and the second most abundant in human serum. In addition to preventing pathogen entry at mucosal surfaces, IgA can control and eradicate bacterial and viral infections through a variety of antibody-mediated innate effector cell mechanisms. The role of mucosal IgA in infection (e.g. neutralization) and in inflammatory homeostasis (e.g. allergy and autoimmunity) has been extensively investigated; by contrast, serum IgA is comparatively understudied. IgA binding to fragment crystallizable alpha receptor plays a dual role in the activation and inhibition of innate effector cell functions. Mounting evidence suggests that serum IgA induces potent effector functions against various bacterial and some viral infections including Neisseria meningitidis and rotavirus. Furthermore, in the era of immunotherapy, serum IgA provides an interesting alternative to classical IgG monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer and infectious pathogens. Here we discuss the role of serum IgA in infectious diseases with reference to bacterial and viral infections and the potential for IgA as a monoclonal antibody therapy.

Keywords: Bacteria; CD89; Fc receptor; ITAM; ITAMi; IgA; infectious disease; serum; virus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Motifs / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antigens, CD / immunology
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology*
  • Communicable Diseases / microbiology
  • Communicable Diseases / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood*
  • Immunoglobulin A / chemistry
  • Immunoglobulin A / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments / physiology
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Receptors, Fc / blood
  • Receptors, Fc / chemistry
  • Receptors, Fc / immunology
  • Receptors, Fc / physiology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antigens, CD
  • Fc(alpha) receptor
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin Fc Fragments
  • Receptors, Fc