Immune and non-immune functions of the (not so) neonatal Fc receptor, FcRn
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- Baker, K., Qiao, S., Kuo, T. et al. Semin Immunopathol (2009) 31: 223. doi:10.1007/s00281-009-0160-9
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Careful regulation of the body’s immunoglobulin-G (IgG) and albumin concentrations is necessitated by the importance of their respective functions. As such, the neonatal Fc receptor (FcRn) which, as a single receptor, is capable of regulating both of these molecules, has become an important focus of investigation. In addition to these essential protection functions, FcRn possesses a host of other functions that are equally as critical. During the very first stages of life, FcRn mediates the passive transfer of IgG from mother to offspring both before and after birth. In the adult, FcRn regulates the persistence of both IgG and albumin in the serum as well as the movement of IgG, and any bound cargo, between different compartments of the body. This shuttling allows for the movement not only of monomeric ligand but also of antigen/antibody complexes from one cell type to another in such a way as to facilitate the efficient initiation of immune responses towards opsonized pathogens. As such, FcRn continues to play the role of an immunological sensor throughout adult life, particularly in regions such as the gut which are exposed to a large number of infectious antigens. Increasing appreciation for the contributions of FcRn to both homeostatic and pathological states is generating an intense interest in the potential for therapeutic modulation of FcRn binding. A greater understanding of FcRn’s pleiotropic roles is thus imperative for a variety of therapeutic purposes.