Immunoglobulins A, D, G, and M

(redirected from and IgM)

Immunoglobulins A, D, G, and M

Synonym/acronym: IgA, IgD, IgG, and IgM.

Common use

To quantitate immunoglobulins A, D, G, and M as indicators of immune system function, to assist in the diagnosis of immune system disorders such as multiple myeloma, and to investigate transfusion anaphylaxis.


Serum (1 mL) collected in a gold-, red-, or red/gray-top tube. Place separated serum in a standard transport tube within 2 hr of collection.

Normal findings

(Method: Nephelometry)
AgeConventional UnitsSI Units
Immunoglobulin A(Conventional Units × 0.01)
 Newborn1–4 mg/dL0.01–0.04 g/L
 1–9 mo2–80 mg/dL0.02–0.8 g/L
 10–12 mo15–90 mg/dL0.15–0.9 g/L
 2–3 yr18–150 mg/dL0.18–1.5 g/L
 4–5 yr25–160 mg/dL0.25–1.6 g/L
 6–8 yr35–200 mg/dL0.35–2 g/L
 9–12 yr45–250 mg/dL0.45–2.5 g/L
 Older than 12 yr40–350 mg/dL0.40–3.5 g/L
Immunoglobulin D(Conventional Units × 10)
 NewbornGreater than 2 mg/dLGreater than 20 mg/L
 AdultLess than 15 mg/dLLess than 150 mg/L
Immunoglobulin G(Conventional Units × 0.01)
 Newborn650–1,600 mg/dL6.5–16 g/L
 1–9 mo250–900 mg/dL2.5–9 g/L
 10–12 mo290–1,070 mg/dL2.9–10.7 g/L
 2–3 yr420–1,200 mg/dL4.2–12 g/L
 4–6 yr460–1,240 mg/dL4.6–12.4 g/L
 Greater than 6 yr650–1,600 mg/dL6.5–16 g/L
Immunoglobulin M(Conventional Units × 0.01)
 NewbornLess than 25 mg/dLLess than 0.25 g/L
 1–9 mo20–125 mg/dL0.2–1.25 g/L
 10–12 mo40–150 mg/dL0.4–1.5 g/L
 2–8 yr45–200 mg/dL0.45–2 g/L
 9–12 yr50–250 mg/dL0.5–2.5 g/L
 Greater than 12 yr50–300 mg/dL0.5–3 g/L


Immunoglobulins A, D, E, G, and M are made by plasma cells in response to foreign substances. Immunoglobulins neutralize toxic substances, support phagocytosis, and destroy invading microorganisms. They are made up of heavy and light chains. Immunoglobulins produced by the abnormal proliferation of a single plasma cell (clone) are called monoclonal. Polyclonal increases result when multiple cell lines produce excessive amounts of antibody. IgA is found mainly in secretions such as tears, saliva, and breast milk. It is believed to protect mucous membranes from viruses and bacteria. The function of IgD is not well understood. For details on IgE, see the monograph titled “Immunoglobulin E.” IgG is the predominant serum immunoglobulin and is important in long-term defense against disease. It is the only antibody that crosses the placenta. IgM is the largest immunoglobulin, and it is the first antibody to react to an antigenic stimulus. IgM also forms natural antibodies, such as ABO blood group antibodies. The presence of IgM in cord blood is an indication of congenital infection.

This procedure is contraindicated for



  • Assist in the diagnosis of multiple myeloma
  • Evaluate humoral immunity status
  • Monitor therapy for multiple myeloma
  • IgA: Evaluate patients suspected of IgA deficiency prior to transfusion. Evaluate anaphylaxis associated with the transfusion of blood and blood products (anti-IgA antibodies may develop in patients with low levels of IgA, possibly resulting in anaphylaxis when donated blood is transfused)

Potential diagnosis

Increased in


  • Polyclonal

  • Chronic liver disease (pathophysiology is unclear)
  • Immunodeficiency states, such as Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (inherited condition of lymphocytes characterized by increased IgA and IgE)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IgG and/or IgA antibody positive for Saccharomyces cerevisiae with negative perinuclear-antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody is indicative of Crohn’s disease)
  • Lower gastrointestinal (GI) cancer (pathophysiology is unclear)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (pathophysiology is unclear)
  • Monoclonal

  • IgA-type multiple myeloma (related to excessive production by a single clone of plasma cells)
  • IgD

  • Polyclonal (pathophysiology is unclear, but increases are associated with increases in IgM)

  • Certain liver diseases
  • Chronic infections
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Monoclonal

  • IgD-type multiple myeloma (related to excessive production by a single clone of plasma cells)
  • IgG

  • (Conditions that involve inflammation and/or development of an infection stimulate production of IgG.)

  • Polyclonal

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Chronic liver disease
  • Chronic or recurrent infections
  • Intrauterine devices (the IUD creates a localized inflammatory reaction that stimulates production of IgG)
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Monoclonal

  • IgG-type multiple myeloma (related to excessive production by a single clone of plasma cells)
  • Leukemias
  • Lymphomas
  • IgM

  • Polyclonal (humoral response to infections and inflammation; both acute and chronic)

  • Active sarcoidosis
  • Chronic hepatocellular disease
  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Early response to bacterial or parasitic infection
  • Hyper-IgM dysgammaglobulinemia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Variable in nephrotic syndrome
  • Viral infection (hepatitis or mononucleosis)
  • Monoclonal

  • Cold agglutinin hemolysis disease
  • Malignant lymphoma
  • Neoplasms (especially in GI tract)
  • Reticulosis
  • Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (related to excessive production by a single clone of plasma cells)

Decreased in


    Ataxia-telangiectasia Chronic sinopulmonary disease Genetic IgA deficiency


    Genetic IgD deficiency Malignant melanoma of the skin Pre-eclampsia


    Burns Genetic IgG deficiency Nephrotic syndrome Pregnancy


    Burns Secondary IgM deficiency associated with IgG or IgA gammopathies

Critical findings


Interfering factors

  • Drugs that may increase immunoglobulin levels include asparaginase, cimetidine, and narcotics.
  • Drugs that may decrease immunoglobulin levels include dextran, oral contraceptives, methylprednisolone (high doses), and phenytoin.
  • Chemotherapy, immunosuppressive therapy, and radiation treatments decrease immunoglobulin levels.
  • Specimens with macroglobulins, cryoglobulins, or cold agglutinins tested at cold temperatures may give falsely low values.

Nursing Implications and Procedure

Potential nursing problems

ProblemSigns & SymptomsInterventions
Hopelessness (Related to chronic illness; impaired functionality; prolonged pain and discomfort)Decreased affect; decreased response to stimuli; feeling of emptiness; alterations in sleep patterns and appetite; expressions of apathy; withdrawn; states life has no meaningAssess role of illness in relation to expressions of helplessness; assess grooming (energy to provide good personal hygiene); assess level of appetite; assess verbalization of helplessness; provide opportunities to express feelings in a safe environment; support development of a trusting relationship to decrease feelings of isolation; encourage verbalization of personal strengths and weaknesses; encourage realistic hope; assist in identification of coping skills
Protection (Related to failure of bone marrow; replacement of bone marrow by neoplastic cells; insufficient autoimmune response; chemotherapy; bone marrow transplant)Bleeding; infection; anemiaMonitor and trend HGB/HCT; monitor and trend platelets and red blood cells (RBCs); monitor for symptoms of infection; take temperature every 4 hr; institute bleeding precautions, soft toothbrushes, avoid aspirin, avoid IM or IV injections, coordinate laboratory draws to minimize venipuncture; administer prescribed steroids, erythropoietin; administer prescribed blood and blood products; avoid at-risk activities that could cause trauma; discuss exposure to microbes that could result in infection
Pain (Related to invasion of bone marrow and pathological fractures secondary to medication diagnosis [multiple myeloma])Self-report of pain; guarding; crying; moaning; sleeplessness; restlessness; emotional symptoms of distress; agitation; facial grimace; rocking motions; irritability; diaphoresis; altered blood pressure and heart rate; nausea; vomitingAssess pain characteristics, skeletal pain, low back, ribs; assess level of pain with movement; identify pain modalities that have relieved pain in the past; administer prescribed pain medication; monitor and trend vital signs; recommend use of nonpharmacologic pain management modalities, imagery, distraction, music, relaxation, correct body alignment


  • Positively identify the patient using at least two unique identifiers before providing care, treatment, or services.
  • Patient Teaching: Inform the patient this test can assess the immune system by evaluating the levels of immunoglobulins in the blood.
  • Obtain a history of the patient’s complaints, including a list of known allergens, especially allergies or sensitivities to latex.
  • Obtain a history of the patient’s hematopoietic and immune systems, symptoms, and results of previously performed laboratory tests and diagnostic and surgical procedures.
  • Obtain a list of the patient’s current medications, including herbs, nutritional supplements, and nutraceuticals (see Effects of Natural Products on Laboratory Values online at DavisPlus).
  • Note any recent procedures that can interfere with test results.
  • Review the procedure with the patient. Inform the patient that specimen collection takes approximately 5 to 10 min. Address concerns about pain and explain to the patient that there may be some discomfort during the venipuncture.
  • Sensitivity to social and cultural issues, as well as concern for modesty, is important in providing psychological support before, during, and after the procedure.
  • Note that there are no food, fluid, or medication restrictions unless by medical direction.


  • Potential complications: N/A
  • Avoid the use of equipment containing latex if the patient has a history of allergic reaction to latex.
  • Instruct the patient to cooperate fully and to follow directions. Direct the patient to breathe normally and to avoid unnecessary movement.
  • Observe standard precautions, and follow the general guidelines in Patient Preparation and Specimen Collection. Positively identify the patient, and label the appropriate specimen container with the corresponding patient demographics, initials of the person collecting the specimen, date, and time of collection. Perform a venipuncture.
  • Remove the needle and apply direct pressure with dry gauze to stop bleeding. Observe/assess venipuncture site for bleeding or hematoma formation and secure gauze with adhesive bandage.
  • Promptly transport the specimen to the laboratory for processing and analysis.


  • Inform the patient that a report of the results will be made available to the requesting health-care provider (HCP), who will discuss the results with the patient. A patient with IgA deficiency should not receive gamma globulin. Administration of gamma globulin may initiate sensitization of the immune system that could result in an anaphylactic shock during a subsequent RBC product transfusion, related to instigation by donor IgA in the product. IgA deficiency is a lifelong condition, if transfusion is necessary and products from an IgA-deficient donor are unavailable, washed RBCs can be used to decrease the risk of transfusion reaction.
  • Depending on the results of this procedure, additional testing may be performed to evaluate or monitor progression of the disease process and determine the need for a change in therapy. Evaluate test results in relation to the patient’s symptoms and other tests performed.
  • Patient Education

    • Reinforce information given by the patient’s HCP regarding further testing, treatment, or referral to another HCP.
    • Answer any questions or address any concerns voiced by the patient or family.
    • Provide information on the disease process as it relates to altered laboratory results.
  • Expected Patient Outcomes

    • Knowledge
    • States understanding of the importance of notifying the HCP if the pain management regime is ineffective
    • States understanding that a combination of pain management modalities may be most effective in managing pain
    • Skills
    • Describes appropriate use of pain scale for quantifying the severity of pain experienced
    • Demonstrates proficiency in using a selected nonpharmacological pain management strategy to decrease pain intensity
    • Attitude
    • Complies with the recommendation to try using nonpharmacological measures to decrease pain
    • Complies with the recommendation to take pain medication around the clock to decrease the risk of peak pain periods

Related Monographs

  • Related tests include ALT, anion gap, ANA, bilirubin, biopsy bone, biopsy bone marrow, biopsy liver, biopsy lymph node, blood groups and antibodies, cold agglutinin, CBC, CBC WBC count and differential, Coomb’s antiglobulin (direct and indirect), cryoglobulin, ESR, fibrinogen, IFE, quantitative immunoglobulin levels, GGT, LAP, liver and spleen scan, beta-2-microglobulin, platelet antibodies, protein total and fractions, RF, and uric acid.
  • Refer to the Hematopoietic and Immune systems tables at the end of the book for related tests by body system.
Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, © 2013 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
Sera was separated from the blood and were tested for rubella-specific IgG and IgM antibodies through ELISA (enzyme linked immunosurbant assay).
Diagnostic testing for Zika virus infection is conducted using both molecular and serologic methods, which include testing for viral RNA and IgM and neutralizing antibodies (3-5).
KARACHI -- Defenders CC and IGM are the latest teams to qualify to the semi-finals of the MGM Royal Premier League, being currently staged at the Eden Gardens in Ajman, United Arab Emirates.
However, in our study, no significant association was detected between OCS use and IGM. The association between IGM and OCS use has been reported to range between 0%-42% in a number of previous studies (13).
The increasing levels of TGF-[beta] and IgM anti-PGL-1 level on patients with leprosy MB type can be a predictor of the recurrent reaction.
ELISA test for dengue IgG and IgM was performed two time in order to confirm the dengue cases.
Prolactin levels and/or increased expression of prolactin is thought to play a role in breast fibrocystic changes, ductal ectasia, benign breast lesions, and IGM and even in the development of breast carcinoma [8].
The MYD88 L265P variant was absent in bone marrow from healthy donors and absent or rarely expressed in marrow samples from patients with marginal zone lymphoma (MZL), IgM monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS), and IgM multiple myeloma [4, 5].