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Front Immunol. 2013 Jul 12;4:185. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00185. eCollection 2013.

Multi-faceted functions of secretory IgA at mucosal surfaces.

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R&D Laboratory, Department of Immunology and Allergy, University State Hospital Lausanne (CHUV) , Lausanne , Switzerland.


Secretory IgA (SIgA) plays an important role in the protection and homeostatic regulation of intestinal, respiratory, and urogenital mucosal epithelia separating the outside environment from the inside of the body. This primary function of SIgA is referred to as immune exclusion, a process that limits the access of numerous microorganisms and mucosal antigens to these thin and vulnerable mucosal barriers. SIgA has been shown to be involved in avoiding opportunistic pathogens to enter and disseminate in the systemic compartment, as well as tightly controlling the necessary symbiotic relationship existing between commensals and the host. Clearance by peristalsis appears thus as one of the numerous mechanisms whereby SIgA fulfills its function at mucosal surfaces. Sampling of antigen-SIgA complexes by microfold (M) cells, intimate contact occurring with Peyer's patch dendritic cells (DC), down-regulation of inflammatory processes, modulation of epithelial, and DC responsiveness are some of the recently identified processes to which the contribution of SIgA has been underscored. This review aims at presenting, with emphasis at the biochemical level, how the molecular complexity of SIgA can serve these multiple and non-redundant modes of action.


antibody; commensal bacteria; epithelium; infectious agents; mucosal homeostasis; secretory IgA

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