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Function and clinical applications of immunoglobulins

Francisco A Bonilla, MD, PhD
Section Editor
E Richard Stiehm, MD
Deputy Editor
Anna M Feldweg, MD


Immunoglobulin (Ig) molecules are multifunctional components of the immune system that mediate interactions between antigen molecules and a variety of cellular and humoral effector mechanisms. Important mechanisms in which Ig molecules are essential include the following:

Activation and signal transduction in B cells (in the case of surface Ig receptors)

Interactions with receptors for the constant region of IgG on a variety of cells, with different functional outcomes

Activation and modulation of the complement system

Different parts of immunoglobulin molecules have distinct functions. These functional fragments can be generated by digestion with the protease papain, which cleaves immunoglobulins near the hinge region, yielding two identical Fab fragments, and one Fc fragment (figure 1) [1]:


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Dec 12, 2014.
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