Kovacs-Nolan, J., Mine, Y., 2004, Avian and Poultry Biology Reviews 15: 25-46.
Department of Food Science, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada
The existence of an IgG-like molecule in avian eggs, referred to as IgY, has been well documented, and extensive research has been carried out on its characterization, production and purification. Although it is the functional equivalent of mammalian IgG, the major serum antibody found in mammals, IgY is structurally different, and has been found to exhibit several important differences when compared to mammalian antibodies, including its physico-chemical properties and immunological capabilities. Recently, considerable research has focussed on the use of IgY as an alternative to mammalian antibodies for several applications, including for immunotherapeutic applications, especially for the oral passive immunization against various bacteria and viruses. Much research has also been carried out on the use of IgY as a replacement for IgG in various immunodiagnostic and immunoaffinity purification purposes. The use of IgY offers several advantages over polyclonal antibodies produced in mammals, including providing a much more hygienic, cost efficient, convenient, humane and plentiful source of antigen-specific antibodies.
*This review paper is available in its entirety.