The secretory IgA system of the gut.

J. J. Cebra, R. Kamat, P. Gearhart, S. M. Robertson, J. Tseng

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Most commonly, humoral immunity manifested in the gastrointestinal tract of mammals is due to the presence of secretory IgA antibodies. Antibody specificities have been detected in the secretory IgA of gut secretions to a wide range of naturally occurring viral and bacterial components and to test antigens such as chemically modified proteins. Much of the IgA found in gut secretions is synthesized and secreted locally by the abundant plasma cells of the lamina propria. Development of methods for establishing local protective immunity in the gut requires knowledge of the origins of these plasma cells and of the whereabouts of their precursors when they are susceptible to antigen-driven proliferation and/or maturation. The Peyer's patches have been shown to contain a population of B lymphocytes especially rich in precursors for IgA plasma cells and in cells which can repopulate gut lamina propria with such IgA plasma cells. The Peyer's patches also appear to 'sample' gut antigens, in that small amounts of antigens are passed intact through their dome epithelial cells. Recent experiments bearing on the origins, differentiation and maturation, antigen sensitivity, migration and lodging of precursors for gut IgA plasma cells are discussed. We use the following three systems: (1) congenic transfer of cells from different murine lymphoid cell sources or mixtures of these (CB20 leads to BALB/c or BALB/c leads to CB20) and the use of allo-antisera to IgA allotypic determinants to assess their potential to impart an adoptive IgA antibody response to the recipient and to repopulate its histocompatible lamina propria with IgA plasma cells; (2) clonal precursor analysis (the method of Klinman) both to enumerate antigen-sensitive cells in different tissues of mice and to evaluate their potential to generate plasma cells making particular isotypes and idiotypes of antibodies; (3) use of pairs of Thiry-Vella loops in rabbits, each member either bearing or lacking a Peyer's patch, and quantitation of antibodies of each isotype and of total secretory IgA to assess the response of each loop with the time after local immunization. The results from all three systems provide strong evidence for the importance of Peyer's patches in supplying cells responsible for local humoral immunity and suggest both a differentiative pathway for IgA precursors and their whereabouts when antigen may cause the expansion of a population of specific cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-28
Number of pages24
JournalCiba Foundation symposium
Issue number46
StatePublished - Apr 26 1977

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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