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J Immunol. 1996 Jul 15;157(2):950-5.

Human IgG production in vivo: determination of synthetic rate by nonradioactive tracer incorporation.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, NY 14642, USA.


Exposure of Ab-secreting cells to selected hormones, cytokines, and drugs alters the rate of Ig production in vitro. Whether these effects are important clinically is unknown because there are no safe, reproducible, and appropriate techniques for measuring Ig synthesis in vivo. We developed a stable isotope tracer method to measure IgG secretion into plasma. L-[1-13C]Leucine was given as a priming dose followed by a constant i.v. infusion over 8 h. Tracer accrual in IgG, determined by mass spectrometry, was linear from 2 to 8 h of the infusion. The normal rate of IgG synthesis into plasma assessed in 21 healthy subjects was 860 +/- 310 mg/day (mean +/- SD). The synthetic rate measurements were remarkably reproducible (coefficient of variation = 10.5 %). Simultaneous analysis of leucine kinetics allows, for the first time, Ig secretion to be studied in the context of whole body protein economy. IgG secretion into plasma accounts for 0.3% of whole body protein synthesis. Experimental support for a key metabolic assumption, that tracer enrichment in plasma and that at the site of IgG synthesis were similar, came from a comparison of synthetic rates derived from low dose and high dose tracer infusions. Measurement of Ig secretion by tracer incorporation is rapid and reproducible. In contrast to older methods that rely on radioisotope disappearance, the tracer incorporation method is safe for serial measurements in an individual and will be useful for quantitative studies of treatment effects and immune regulation in vivo.

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