Three monoclonal antibodies (mAb) recognizing the CD3 (T3) surface complex each induced B cell differentiation (as measured by PFC generation) in cultures containing T + non-T cells. Irradiation of the T cells before culture usually augmented the PFC response. An IgG2a mAb (454) induced PFC in all donors tested, whereas two IgG1 mAb (147 and 446) induced PFC in only 80% of the donors tested. This heterogeneity in PFC response to IgG1 anti-CD3 mAb strictly paralleled the heterogeneity in proliferative response to IgG1 anti-CD3 mAb and was governed by cells within the non-T population. In IgG1 anti-CD3 high responders (HR), all anti-CD3 mAb tested induced Tac expression. In IgG1 anti-CD3 low responders (LR), mAb 454 induced Tac expression, but mAb 147 did not. However, when the cultures were supplemented with exogenous interleukin 2, Tac expression and PFC generation in response to mAb 147 was similar to the response to mAb 454 in both HR and LR. The addition of anti-Tac to the cultures partially inhibited anti-CD3-induced PFC generation. These studies indicate that anti-CD3 mAb can lead to B cell differentiation under appropriate experimental conditions and may be valuable in studying polyclonal T cell-dependent B cell differentiation in normal and disease states.

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