Maternal immunoglobulins of the class G (IgGs) protect offspring from enteric infection, but when, where, and how these antibodies are physiologically generated and confer protection remains enigmatic. We found that circulating IgGs in adult mice preferentially bind early-life gut commensal bacteria over their own adult gut commensal bacteria. IgG-secreting plasma cells specific for early-life gut bacteria appear in the intestine soon after weaning, where they remain into adulthood. Manipulating exposure to gut bacteria or plasma cell development before, but not after, weaning reduced IgG-secreting plasma cells targeting early-life gut bacteria throughout life. Further, the development of this anti-gut commensal IgG response coincides with the early-life interval in which goblet cell–associated antigen passages (GAPs) are present in the colon. Offspring of dams “perturbed” by B cell ablation or reduced bacterial exposure in early life were more susceptible to enteric pathogen challenge. In contrast to current concepts, protective maternal IgGs targeted translocating gut commensals in the offspring, not the enteric pathogen. These early-life events affecting anti-commensal IgG production have intergenerational effects for protection of the offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2309994121
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 26 2024


  • IgG
  • anti-commensal
  • infection
  • long-lived plasma cell
  • neonatal


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