by Rosemarie Tremblay-LeMay MD FRCPC
May 26, 2022

What is an antibody?

An antibody is a special type of protein made by plasma cells. Antibodies protect our body by sticking to bacteria and viruses, which makes them easier to remove from the body. Antibodies can also stick to abnormal cells or cells that have stopped functionally normally. Another name for an antibody is immunoglobulin.

Plasma Cell

Types of antibodies

Antibodies are made up of four parts and each part is called a chain. One antibody is made up of two heavy chains and two light chains. There are five different kinds of heavy chains, called A, G, D, E, M, and two different kinds of light chains called kappa and lambda. Any combination of heavy and light chains can be used to make an antibody. These options allow your body to produce many different kinds of antibodies (for example IgA kappa, IgG lambda, etc.).

While the immune system has the ability to make many different kinds of antibodies, each plasma cell makes just one kind of antibody. Because our immune system makes millions of different plasma cells, it is normal to find many different kinds of antibodies in the body at any time.

Cancers that make antibodies

A plasma cell neoplasm is a type of cancer that makes large amounts of antibodies. The antibodies can be found in the blood or urine.

A+ A A-