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The gut microbiota enhances systemic immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses to vaccines. However, it is unknown whether this effect involves IgA, a mucosal antibody that coats intestinal microbes. Here we found that gut IgA increased peripheral IgG responses to pneumococcal vaccines, as these responses were profoundly impaired in mice with global or mucosa-restricted IgA deficiency. The positive effect of IgA on vaccine-induced IgG production implicated gut bacteria. Indeed, IgG responses to pneumococcal vaccines were also defective in ex-germ free mice recolonized with gut microbes from mouse or human IgA-deficient donors. IgA exerted this IgG-enhancing effect by constraining the systemic translocation of intestinal commensal antigens, which caused chronic immune activation, including T cell overexpression of programmed death-1. This immune inhibitory receptor hindered vaccine-specific IgG production by eliciting functional B cell unresponsiveness, which was reverted by anti-programmed death-1 treatment. Thus, gut IgA is functionally interconnected with systemic IgG via intestinal microbes.

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