To determine whether IgE+ cells in the intestinal mucosa of nematode-infected mice were of a mast cell or a lymphocyte lineage, the intestinal mucosae of mast cell-deficient w/wv mice were examined for IgE+ cells after inoculation with Trichinella spiralis muscle-stage larvae. Immunofluorescence staining techniques were used to detect IgE associated with cells in the intestinal mucosa. Comparisons were made among four strains of mice, w/wv (mast cell-deficient), +/+ (normal congenic littermates of w/wv), BALB/c, and SJL, that were either uninfected controls or inoculated with T. spiralis. Tissue sections from the small intestine of T. spiralis-infected BALB/c, SJL, and +/+ mice were fixed in ethanol and were stained with an affinity-purified F(ab')2 rabbit anti-mouse IgE followed by FITC goat anti-rabbit IgG. Large numbers of cells in the intestinal mucosa exhibited bright fluorescence. When other sections of intestines from these mice were processed in Carnoy's fixative and were stained with alcian blue at low pH (a metachromatic stain for mast cells) or alcian blue followed by immunofluorescence staining for IgE, large numbers of mast cells were observed in the intestinal mucosa, and 70 to 90% stained positively for IgE. There was a considerable number of cells in the intestinal mucosa which were IgE+ but which did not stain with alcian blue. Few alcian blue-positive cells and no IgE+ staining cells were present in the intestinal mucosa of control, uninfected +/+, BALB/c, and SJL mice. To determine whether these IgE+ alcian blue-negative cells were of a lymphocyte or a mast cell lineage, the mast cell-deficient w/wv mouse strain was examined after infection with T. spiralis. In contrast to BALB/c, SJL, or +/+ mice, few cells in the intestinal mucosa of T. spiralis-infected w/wv mice stained with alcian blue or were positive for IgE. However, when the IgE response in the MLN of the w/wv mice was compared to the IgE response of BALB/c, SJL, and +/+ mice, numerous IgE+ cells, but no alcian blue-positive cells, were observed in the parenchyma of the MLN from all four strains of T. spiralis-infected mice. In addition, flow microfluorometric analysis of MLN cells stained for surface IgE in suspension showed a comparable proportion of IgE-bearing cells, which were mostly B lymphocytes, among all four strains of T. spiralis-infected mice.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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