Immunoglobulin M IgM

IgM accounts for 5% to 13% of the circulating antibodies and is the first class produced during the primary response to an anti gen. It is the only class produced in response to T-independent antigens, a group of antigens that will be discussed later.

IgM found circulating in the blood is a pentamer. Its large size prevents it from crossing from the bloodstream into tissues, so its role is primarily to control bloodstream infections. The five monomeric subunits give IgM a total of 10 antigen-binding sites, making it very effective in agglutination and precipitation. It is the most efficient class in initiating the classical pathway of the complement cascade.

As a fetus is normally sterile until the birth membrane is ruptured, IgM generally begins being made about the time of birth. However, a fetus that is infected in utero is capable of making IgM antibodies.

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