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Hyper-IgM Syndrome

To Switch or Not to Switch?

Co Authors:

Chaya Gopalan
Departments of Nursing and Applied Health
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

William B. Kist
Department of Basic Sciences
St. Louis College of Pharmacy


Hyper-IgM syndrome is an X-linked genetic disorder more commonly affecting males than females. It is caused by the lack of heavy chain class-switching from IgM to other isotypes. Patients with hyper-IgM syndrome are susceptible to a variety of infections as demonstrated in this medical case study. Students are presented patient information, symptoms and a diagnosis that must be interpreted. The case was written for use with the team-based learning (TBL) format involving groups of 4-5 students per group, but it could also be completed as an individual project. The case is targeted to premedical/allied health advanced students and is appropriate for any immunology course at the undergraduate or graduate level in a biomedical science program, or health-related professional courses such as advanced physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, or histology and cytology.

  • Describe the basic structure of an antibody molecule and distinguish between the Fc and Fab regions.
  • List the sequential steps in B cell activation in response to an infection.
  • Identify and differentiate the various isotypes of antibodies.
  • Explain the mechanism and regulation of isotype switching, and why a specific type of isotype (such as IgG) is produced in a given situation instead of another (such as IgE).
  • Identify possible causes of isotype switching failure and the biological health consequences that may result.
Keywords: IgM; immunoglobulins; isotype switching; B lymphocyte; CD40; CD4+ T cell; immunoglobulin class switching; immunology
Topical Area: N/A
Educational Level: Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Professional (degree program), Clinical education
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Directed, Discussion
Language: English
Subject Headings: Dental Medicine   Medicine (General)   Nursing   Pharmacy / Pharmacology   Physiology   Developmental Biology  
Date Posted: 10/27/2016
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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