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Immunoglobulin A (IgA, also referred to as sIgA in its secretory form) is an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune function of mucous membranes. The amount of IgA produced in association with mucosal membranes is greater than all other types of antibody combined. In absolute terms, between three and five grams are secreted into the intestinal lumen each day. This represents up to 15% of total immunoglobulins produced throughout the body.IgA has two subclasses (IgA1 and IgA2) and can be produced as a monomeric as well as a dimeric form. The IgA dimeric form is the most prevalent and is also called secretory IgA (sIgA). sIgA is the main immunoglobulin found in mucous secretions, including tears, saliva, sweat, colostrum and secretions from the genitourinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, prostate and respiratory epithelium. It is also found in small amounts in blood. The secretory component of sIgA protects the immunoglobulin from being degraded by proteolytic enzymes; thus, sIgA can survive in the harsh gastrointestinal tract environment and provide protection against microbes that multiply in body secretions. sIgA can also inhibit inflammatory effects of other immunoglobulins. IgA is a poor activator of the complement system, and opsonizes only weakly.

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