Immunoglobulin A (IgA)


Send Email

Recipient(s) will receive an email with a link to 'Immunoglobulin A (IgA)' and will have access to the topic for 7 days.

Subject: Immunoglobulin A (IgA)

(Optional message may have a maximum of 1000 characters.)



  • IgA makes up the majority of immunoglobulin in mucosal secretions, including nasal and pulmonary secretions, saliva and intestinal fluids, tears, and secretions of the genitourinary tract. IgA is important in preventing attachment or penetration of the body surfaces by microorganisms, and in protection against respiratory, GI, and GU infections. IgA cannot cross the placenta. It can be produced by infants, and their secretions tend to be typically low. IgA is the second most frequent type of monoclonal immunoglobulin identified in multiple myeloma.

  • Normal ranges: see Table 16.41.

TABLE 16–41
Normal Ranges for IgA by Age


  • Detection or monitoring of monoclonal gammopathies and immune deficiencies

  • Assist in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma

  • Monitor therapy for multiple myeloma

  • Evaluate patients suspected of IgA deficiency prior to transfusion

  • Evaluate anaphylaxis associated with the transfusion of blood and blood products (anti-IgA antibodies may develop in patients with low levels of IgA, possibly resulting in anaphylaxis when donated blood is transfused)


Increased In

  • Polyclonal:

    • Cirrhosis of the liver

    • Chronic infections

    • Chronic inflammatory diseases

    • Inflammatory bowel disease

    • RA with high titers of RF

    • SLE (some patients)

    • Mixed connective tissue diseases

    • Sarcoidosis (some patients)

    • Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome

  • Monoclonal:

    • IgA myeloma (M component)

    • Solitary plasmacytoma

    • Alpha-heavy chain disease

    • MGUS

    • Lymphoma

    • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Decreased In

  • Normal persons (1:700)

  • Hereditary telangiectasia (80% of patients)

  • Type III dysgammaglobulinemia

  • Malabsorption (some patients)

  • SLE (occasionally)

  • Cirrhosis of the liver (occasionally)

  • Still disease (occasionally)

  • Recurrent otitis media (occasionally)

  • Non-IgA myeloma

  • Waldenström macroglobulinemia

  • Acquired immunodeficiency

  • Gastric carcinoma


  • Immunochemical methods do not distinguish between polyclonal and monoclonal levels. Serum protein electrophoresis and immunofixation need to be performed for quantification of M-proteins.