We have recently noted marked differences between the in vitro responses of human B lymphocytes to stimulation with soluble antigens vs. stimulation with mitogens. In the present study, these differences were analyzed in terms of the precursor frequencies for the T cells and B cells involved and in terms of the radiation sensitivity of the T cells providing help in the two systems. Marked differences were found between antigen-induced and mitogen-induced systems with regard to T cell precursor frequencies and radiation sensitivity. In contrast, the precursor frequencies for the B cells involved in the two systems were approximately the same. In addition, having developed a system for the study of human antigen-specific B cell responses, we were interested in delineating the nature of the allogeneic effects that might be operative in this system. Marked allogeneic effects, both positive and negative, were noted in this system and will need to be taken into account in any studies that try to address the question of the genetic restriction, if any, that exists in human antigen-specific T cell-B cell collaboration. Appreciation of the marked differences between the antigen-specific and mitogen-induced activation and immunoregulation of human B cell responses will be of importance in understanding the relationship between specificity and nonspecificity of antibody production in normal and disease states.
H C Lane, G Whalen, A S Fauci