This article has been reviewed according to Science X's editorial process and policies. Editors have highlighted the following attributes while ensuring the content's credibility:


peer-reviewed publication

trusted source


Exploring genetic regulation of immunoglobulin A

Exploring genetic regulation of immunoglobulin A
Genetic relationships between IgA levels and human disease traits. a genome-wide genetic correlation analyses between IgA levels and autoimmune, infectious, and cardio-metabolic traits after exclusion of the HLA region (*P < 0.05; two-sided unadjusted P-values for genetic correlation by LD score regression). Supplementary Table 12 provides genetic correlations with and without HLA with P-values for each trait, and references to the original GWAS studies; the error bars correspond to 95% confidence intervals for genetic correlation coefficients. b Meta-PheWAS of genome-wide polygenic score (GPS) for IgA levels across eMERGE-III and UKBB biobanks (total N = 556,656). c Meta-PheWAS of GPS for IgA levels without the HLA region (UKBB and eMERGE-III, total N = 556,656). In (b) and (c), the y-axis shows –log10 (P-value); each triangle represents an individual phenotype (phecode) tested as an outcome against the GPS for IgA levels as a predictor; an upward triangle indicates a positive (risk) association, while a downward triangle indicates a negative (protective) association; two-sided unadjusted P-value corresponds to the fixed effects meta-analysis across the two biobanks based on logistic regression adjusted for age, sex, site, genotyping batch, and principal components of ancestry; the red line corresponds to the Bonferroni-corrected significance threshold for 1523 phecodes tested (alpha = 0.05/1523 = 3.28 × 10−5); the phenotypes are grouped by organ system (or relevant disease category) and sorted based on their statistical significance within each group. Supplementary Table 13 provides a comparison of significant PheWAS associations with and without the HLA region. Credit: Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34456-6

Increased levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA) are correlated with the manifestation of several diseases as well as African ancestry, according to findings published in Nature Communications. The findings provide new insights into the genetic regulation of IgA levels and its potential role in human disease.

"This study, which has found common IgA regulation across ancestral backgrounds, provides insights into the regulation of the human immune system broadly and helps to open doors to understanding how changes in immune system regulatory processes can impact other major organ systems," said Theresa Walunas, Ph.D., associate professor of Medicine in the Division of General Internal Medicine and a co-author of the study.

IgA is an antibody produced by mainly in the respiratory and digestive tracts and is also found in many bodily fluids. Its purpose is multifaceted, playing a key role in detecting food allergies, contributing to the development of different autoimmune and , and helping signal the body's to fight off infection.

Increased IgA levels have been shown to contribute to the manifestation of multiple diseases, including kidney disease and diabetes. IgA levels can be increased by a combination of genetic and , including age and sex, but previous work has neglected to include more diverse populations when studying the genetic regulation of IgA levels in individuals.

In the current study, investigators performed a genome-wide analysis of serum IgA levels in more than 40,000 participants enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) representing different ancestral backgrounds, revealing more than identified 20 genome-wide significant loci, or significant positions of genes on the patient's chromosome, and 11 of which were novel.

These loci encode genes were also enriched in immune-related pathways, and 13 candidate genes demonstrated IgA abnormalities when genetically manipulated in mouse models.

Further analysis using clinical annotations derived from the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) Network of 12 medical centers with linked to genome-wide genotype data, including Northwestern University, revealed positive genetic correlations of serum IgA levels with IgA nephropathy (a rare type of kidney disease), type 2 diabetes, and body mass index, and negative correlations with celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and several infections.

African ancestry was also consistently associated with higher serum IgA levels and a greater frequency of IgA-increasing alleles—a set of copied genes with one inherited from each parent—compared to other ancestries.

"The Nortwestern eMERGE team is continuing this work in eMERGE4, where we are working to develop more ancestry-spanning multi-gene analyses and testing how patients and clinicians can use this information to guide care decisions. We're currently enrolling people who are interested in participating in this research" said Walunas, who is also an associate professor of Microbiology-Immunology, of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Health and Biomedical Informatics, and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University.

More information: Lili Liu et al, Genetic regulation of serum IgA levels and susceptibility to common immune, infectious, kidney, and cardio-metabolic traits, Nature Communications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-34456-6

Journal information: Nature Communications
Citation: Exploring genetic regulation of immunoglobulin A (2023, January 5) retrieved 16 July 2024 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Explore further

How genetics influence immunity in patients with type 1 diabetes


Feedback to editors