IgG accounts for about 80% to 85% of the total serum immunoglobulin in healthy people over the age of 2 years. It circulates in the blood, but readily exits the vessels into tissues with the assistance of receptors on endothelial cells that recognize its Fc region. IgG provides the longest-term protection of any antibody class; its half-life is 21 days, meaning that a given number of IgG molecules will be reduced by approximately 50% after 21 days. In addition, IgG is generally the first and most abundant circulating class produced during the secondary response. The basis for this phenomenon will be discussed later in the chapter. IgG antibodies provide protection by neutralization, agglutination and precipitation, opsonization, complement activation, and antibody-dependent cytotoxicity.
An important distinguishing characteristic of IgG is that, unlike other immunoglobulin classes, it can cross the placenta from a pregnant woman to the developing fetus. Its Fc region
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