A two-step centrifugation procedure has been developed to isolate greater quantities of highly purified sheep erythrocyte antigen-binding cells (ABC) than previously possible. The first step involves partially separating sheep erythrocyte rosettes from unrosetted lymphocytes by their difference in buoyant density on Ficoll-Hypaque. Subsequent passage through a linear 5 to 10% Ficoll gradient produces further purification of rosettes by sedimentation velocity. Approximately 4.5 × 106 ABC can be obtained at 50 to 100% purity from 109 immune spleen cells (5 days post-immunization) and 1 × 105 ABC at 20 to 40% purity from 109 nonimmune spleen cells. The purified ABC from 5-day immune animals are 80 to 90% B cells and 10 to 20% T cells, and represent between 30 and 40% of the original ABC in the spleen cell population. Less than 0.2% of the purified ABC are plaque-forming cells (PFC) and less than 2% have intracellular immunoglobulin (Ig) or J chain. The quantities of ABC obtained are sufficient for investigating biochemical parameters of antigen-induced lymphocyte activation and for direct analysis of the surface isotypes found on antigen-binding cells after immunization.

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