Some science behind the scenes

Immunoglobulin A

Immunoglobulin A (IgA, also referred to as sIgA) is an antibody that plays a critical role in mucosal immunity. More IgA is produced in mucosal linings than all other types of antibody combined; between three and five grams are secreted into the intestinal lumen each day. This accumulates up to 15% of the total immunoglobulin produced in the entire body.

IgA has two subclasses (IgA1 and IgA2) and can exist in a dimeric form called secretory IgA (sIgA).

In its secretory form, IgA is the main immunoglobulin found in mucous secretions, including tears, saliva, sweat, colostrum and secretions from the genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, prostate and respiratory epithelium. It is also found in small amounts in blood.

The secretory component of sIgA protects the immunoglobulin from being degraded by proteolytic enzymes, thus sIgA can survive in the harsh gastrointestinal tract environment and provide protection against microbes that multiply in body secretions. sIgA can also inhibit inflammatory effects of other immunoglobulins. 

The dimeric IgA molecule
1 H-chain
2 L-chain
3 J-chain
4 secretory component