Lifespan of immune molecules

Early measurements of the half-life of serum immunoglobulins relied on injecting purified protein labeled with radioactive iodine. This technique produced an estimated half-life of 4 days for 7S molecules. More recently, it has been possible to study half-life without labeling (potentially altering fine structure) by the use of monoclonal antibodies of defined specificity and/or heavy chain allotype. The results of such studies show that in mice IgM has a half-life of 2 days, for IgG3 and IgGl it is 6-8 days, and for IgG2b it is 4-6 days; IgE has a half-life of 12 h and polymeric IgA 17-22 h. In humans, the use of antibodies in therapy indicates that the half-lives do not differ significantly from these figures.

Other immune molecules have much shorter in vivo half-lives; cytokines decay within minutes, although exhaustive studies on the growing list have not been carried out. Complement components also are not well-studied in this respect but decay with a half-life of several hours, e.g. the half-life of C3 is 50 h.

See also: Apoptosis; B lymphocyte differentiation; Bone marrow and hematopoiesis; Cytokines; Germinal center; High endothelial venules; IgA; IgD; IgE; IgG; IgM; Lymph nodes; Lymphocytes; Memory, immunological; Mononuclear phagocyte system; Proliferation, lymphocyte; Radiation, effects on immune system; Recruitment; Spleen; T lymphocyte clonal expansion; T lymphocyte differentiation; Thymus.

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