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Serum Immunoglobulin Levels Throughout the Life-Span of Healthy Man

C. E. BUCKLEY III, M.D.; and F. C. DORSEY, Ph.D.
[+] Article and Author Information

Supported by grant AI-07499, United States-Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program, administered by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.; grants HD00668 and HE 13857, U.S. Public Health Service, Washington, D.C.; and The North Carolina Tuberculosis and Respiratory Disease Association, Raleigh, N.C.

▸Requests for reprints should be addressed to C. E. Buckley, III, M.D., Box 3804, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C. 27710


Durham, North Carolina


Ann Intern Med. 1971;75(5):673-682. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-75-5-673
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Serum immunoglobulin concentrations in apparently healthy subjects vary with age, race, and sex. Meaningful interpretation of serum immunoglobulin concentrations in older adults has been difficult because of normal variation. A new method for characterizing means and confidence intervals of IgG, IgA, and IgM makes it possible to evaluate observations in a single patient independent of confounding physiologic variation. The derived confidence intervals and categories of altered levels of IgG, IgA, and IgM observed in healthy subjects are comparable between all race and sex groups from age 1 to 80 years. The confidence interval bounded by two standard deviations about the mean excludes 5% of apparently healthy controls. Elevated IgM, low IgA, low IgG, low IgM, and elevated IgA are the commonest changes observed in apparently healthy humans. The data presented provide a basis for evaluation and interpretation of serum immunoglobulin levels in patients throughout life.

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