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Biomarker: IgM

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IgM

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Biological or Clinical Significance:

Immunoglobulin M, or IgM for short, is a basic antibody that is produced by B cells. IgM is by far the physically largest antibody in the human circulatory system. It is the first antibody to appear in response to initial exposure to an antigen. The spleen, where plasmablasts responsible for antibody production reside, is the major site of specific IgM production.

IgM antibodies appear early in the course of an infection and usually reappear, to a lesser extent, after further exposure. IgM antibodies do not pass across the human placenta (only isotype IgG). These two biological properties of IgM make it useful in the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Demonstrating IgM antibodies in a patient’s serum indicates recent infection, or in a neonate’s serum indicates intrauterine infection.

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