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September 2, 1974

Protective Role of IgA

Author Affiliations

University of Illinois Medical Center Chicago

JAMA. 1974;229(10):1287. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230480015016

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To the Editor.—  Binkley and Stigler (228:1228, 1974) have suggested an interesting maternal-fetal relationship in regard to transfer-factor deficiency in neonatal infectious disease. However, they have neglected to mention the role of IgA, the major immunoglobulin coating mucous membranes.IgA provides a primary defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections. It has been shown that the transfer of specific immunity via milk will prevent diarrhea caused by pathogenic types of Escherichia coli (Adv Immunol 9:1, 1968). Furthermore, Campbell et al (Science 125:932, 1957) have shown that immunization of the mammary gland to bacteria in the infant's mouth can induce specific antibody in milk within eight hours. Although transfer factor may possibly be transferred via the placenta or colostrum, the role of IgA in providing protection to the neonate should not be overlooked.