Immunoglobulins are a type of protein produced that play a critical role in our body’s immune system. These compounds are tasked with warding off foreign compounds such as bacteria and play an essential role in helping to destroy them.
There are several categories of immunoglobulins found in the human body. Each of these is unique in how they function.
- Immunoglobulin A (IgA) – found in mucous membranes, particularly those in the respiratory and gastrointestinal areas.
- Immunoglobulin G (IgG) – Found in all body fluids and accounts for roughly 80% of all antibodies found in our blood. Protects against bacterial and viral infections.
- Immunoglobulin M (IgM) – First line of defense. Antibodies produced during the first 2-3 days of infection. Primarily found in the lymph and blood.
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE) – Associated with allergic reactions. Elevated among those reacting to environmental allergens such as dust, pollen, pet dander, or foods.
- Immunoglobulin D (IgD) – Found primarily in b-cells and blood. Helps to signal other immune cells to activate and fight infection. IgD’s exact role isn’t well-understood.
Medical professionals measure levels of Ig to determine specifics of certain diseases. For example, an overgrowth of candida Albicans would likely be accompanied by elevated levels of c.albian-specific IgG. This would reflect an immune response specific to candida.
Low Ig levels can put one at a higher risk for certain diseases. Some health conditions, such as HIV, can cause lower levels of Ig which in turn make a person more susceptible to other infections and disease.
High Ig levels may indicate the presence of other types of diseases such as certain cancers, liver disease, or inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Ig levels are monitored to help assess immunodeficiency conditions, both primary and secondary. Genetic deficiencies in Ig production often result in primary immunodeficiency conditions. Environmental and lifestyle factors, such as malnutrition, HIV, or immunosuppressant drugs, can account for lower Ig levels indicative of secondary immunodeficiency conditions.