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Keywords:

  • Age- and gender-related variability;
  • immunoglobulin A;
  • seasonal variability;
  • serum IgA deficiency

Abstract

Background  The frequency of serum IgA deficiency (SIgAD) differs between populations. We examined the prevalence of SIgAD in healthy Caucasians.

Materials and methods  Serum immunoglobulin A (SIgA) was measured in 7293 volunteers (2264 women, 5029 men) aged 30 ± 14·2 years (mean ± SD; range: 12–66). Serum immunoglobulin A and subnormal SIgA levels were defined by a SIgA level < 0·07 g L−1, and between 0·07 and 0·7 g L−1, respectively. Means were compared by analysis of variance (anova) and analysis of covariance (ancova); frequencies by the χ2 test.

Results  Fifteen subjects (0·21%; one woman, 14 men) had SIgAD. Subnormal SIgA levels were found in 155 persons (2·13%): 21 females (0·93% of the females) and 134 males (2·66% of the males; difference: 1·74%; 95% CI: 1·12–2·33%; P < 0·001). Males were more likely to have subnormal SIgA levels or SIgAD (odds ratio 3·09, 95% CI: 1·97–4·85). The prevalence of SIgAD and subnormal SIgA was lowest in winter (χ2 = 14·8; P = 0·002; 3 d.f.; and χ2 = 43·2; P < 0·001; 3 d.f., respectively).

Serum immunoglobulin A concentrations were significantly higher during winter. Serum immunoglobulin A levels increased with age on average by 0·2 ± 0·06 g L−1 per decade of life (P < 0·001). Taking into account the influence of age, SIgA concentration was lower in females as compared with males.

Conclusion  The prevalence of SIgAD and subnormal SIgA levels is increased in males. There exists a significant influence of gender, age and seasons on SIgA levels.