Protects against infections of the mucous membranes lining the mouth, airways, and diggestive tract. Found in mucosal areas, such as the gut, respiratory tract and urogenital tract, and prevents colonization by pathogens. Also found in saliva, tears, and breast milk.
Some people are born with low or absent levels of IgA. Low levels occur in some types of leukemia, kidney damage (nephrotic syndrome), a problem with the intestines (enteropathy), and a rare inherited disease that affects muscle coordination (ataxia-telangiectasia). This increases the chances of developing an autoimmune disease. Patients with low IgA are at some increased risk of developing severe reactions after receiving blood products.
May mean that IgA monoclonal gammopathy of unknown significance (MGUS) or IgA multiple myeloma is present. Levels of IgA are also higher in some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and in liver diseases, such as cirrhosis and long-term (chronic) hepatitis.
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