The immunoglobulin-synthesizing activities of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 57 untreated patients with Hodgkin's disease and 47 normal subjects were compared. Cumulative amounts of IgM and IgG synthesized and secreted by unstimulated and pokeweed mitogen-stimulated cells over a 7-d period were determined in a solid-phase radioimmunoassay. Synthesis of IgM in unstimulated cultures and of both IgM and IgG in cultures stimulated with pokeweed mitogen was markedly reduced in patients with Hodgkin's disease, whereas the mean level of the spontaneous IgG synthesis was enhanced. The degree and frequency of in vitro abnormalities were not influenced by disease stage or histology. Depression of pokeweed mitogen-induced immunoglobulin synthesis did not correlate with excessive number of monocytes and it was unaffected by removal of phagocytic cells or addition to the cultures of monocytes from normal individuals. On the other hand, monocytes isolated from blood of patients with Hodgkin's disease were even more effective than normal monocytes in supporting pokeweed mitogen-induced immunoglobulin synthesis by normal phagocyte-depleted mononuclear cells. Synthesis of both IgM and IgG induced by pokeweed mitogen remained subnormal after addition to patient B cell cultures of autologous irradiated T cells or allogeneic normal T lymphocytes. T cells from patients with Hodgkin's disease appeared at least as effective as normal T cells in helping pokeweed mitogen-induced immunoglobulin production by normal B cells. However, when normal T cells were co-cultured with B cells from patients with Hodgkin's disease, spontaneous IgG synthesis declined, whereas the addition of patient T cells to normal B cells resulted in an increase of spontaneous IgG synthesis. In patients showing depression of pokeweed mitogen-induced immunoglobulin synthesis the lymphoproliferative response and immunoglobulin synthesis stimulated by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria of the Cowan first strain, a T cell independent B cell mitogen, were also markedly reduced. These studies demonstrate impairment of immunoglobulin synthesis by cultured lymphocytes from untreated patients with Hodgkin's disease after stimulation with polyclonal B cell activators and suggest that the in vitro abnormalities may be, at least in part, the result of a preexisting in vivo activation of lymphocytes in Hodgkin's disease patients.
S Romagnani, G F Del Prete, E Maggi, G Bellesi, G Biti, P L Rossi Ferrini, M Ricci