Immune Deficiency Profile

Individuals with recurrent infections, otitis media, asthma, and certain genetic disorders could have immune deficiency or imbalance contributing to their disorder. Immunodeficiency predisposes an individual to intestinal yeast overgrowth, opportunistic infection, and poor health. An overactive immune system is a major contributor to severe environmental allergies and can predispose a person to auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.


Antibodies or Immunoglobulins

Antibodies are specific proteins of the immune system (also called immunoglobulins) that are able to react with specific foreign molecules. Antibodies attach to foreign proteins, including the cell walls of viruses, fungi [yeast], parasites, and bacteria. Once attached, they invoke the white blood cells to destroy the cell. Antibodies are divided into five major antibody classes (IgM, IgG, IgE, IgA, and IgD) based on structure, but have different functions and different distribution in the body. Antibodies can be produced in secretory or membrane-bound forms.

  • IgM is the first response to infection or immunization. The presence of high levels of IgM antibodies indicates a recent infection. IgM antibodies diminish a few months after infection.
  • IgG antibodies are produced by the B-lymphocytes when the body is attacked by the same microorganism in a subsequent invasion. IgG antibodies are the antibodies that provide long-term resistance to infections after immunizations and may be involved in causing food allergies.
  • IgE triggers histaminic allergy reactions (hives, sneezing, reddened skin, etc.). IgE also protects the body from parasites. Elevated serum IgE is associated with a history of excessive allergies.
  • IgA protects the nasal and intestinal lining from microorganisms. Blood levels of IgA may indicate genetic ability to produce sufficient amounts of IgA. Secretory IgA (sIgA) is measured in stool samples and may vary widely depending on the conditions in the bowel.
  • IgD is produced in very small amounts and is of unknown function (not currently tested for).


IgG Subclass Deficiency

Total serum IgG may be normal but one or more IgG subtypes may be low or high. As a result, a normal IgG level can be misleading. Subtypes are numbered by relative serum quantity: IgG-1, IgG-2, IgG-3, IgG-4.

  • IgG-1 is in the highest quantity in blood and directed against foreign proteins.
  • IgG-2 is directed against the polysaccharide portion of the cell wall of invading microorganisms. IgG-2 deficiency is associated with recurrent infections, particularly sinus or pulmonary infections.
  • IgG-3 it is directed mainly against foreign proteins. Isolated IgG-3 deficiency is the most common subclass deficiency and is associated with recurrent respiratory infection.
  • IgG-4 is higher in persons with allergic diseases and can block IgE responses. The IgG-4 increase after allergy shots may be the mechanism of desensitization to allergens. Isolated IgG-4 subclass deficiency is more common in individuals with recurrent respiratory tract infections.


Zinc Deficiency

Zinc’s multiple effects range from maintenance of the skin barrier to gene regulation. A serum zinc measurement is included in the Immune Deficiency Profile. Zinc deficiency is associated with dermatitis, poor wound healing, retarded growth, and sexual development. Very low values are associated with loss of taste and smell, abdominal pain, diarrhea, skin rash, and loss of appetite. Zinc also functions as an antioxidant and stabilizes cellular membranes.


Benefits of the Immune Deficiency Profile

  • Zinc levels are measured (zinc is an important vitamin for people with autism)
  • Known deficiencies can be treated
  • Abnormal levels could indicate a need for allergy testing
  • Improving the immune system could lead to less infections
  • Seizures and abnormal behaviors may respond to immune therapies
  • Consultation about results is included with each test at The Great Plains Laboratory