We have dissected the human influenza-specific B cell repertoire by performing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) limiting dilution analysis of lymphocytes obtained from donors before and after immunization with a commercially available influenza vaccine. In addition to an analysis of precursor frequency and light chain diversity, we studied sera and culture supernatants containing human anti-influenza antibodies with a panel of murine monoclonal antibodies specific for idiotopes identified on murine anti-PR8 and anti-X-31 antibodies. An idiotypic specificity present on the X-31-specific murine monoclonal PY206 has previously been shown to be shared by murine antibodies specific for PR8, X-31, and other influenza viruses. We observed little correlation among the following parameters: anti-viral titer, serum idiotope content, precursor frequency and immune status. More interestingly, there was a striking predominance of human influenza-specific antibodies that utilized lambda light chains. In addition, 12 of 26 human anti-influenza monoclonals strongly inhibited the binding of one of the murine anti-idiotopes to the labeled murine antibody, PY206. This is the same idiotope that is shared among murine antiinfluenza antibodies and all six individuals studied contained clones reactive with this anti-idiotope. Seven of these 12 idiotope-positive human antibodies gave partial cross-reactivity in a second anti-idiotypic system. These observations imply that a significant level of homology exists between the binding sites of human and murine influenza-specific antibodies and suggest that idiotypic manipulation of the human immune response to influenza virus may have important therapeutic implications.

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