The immune response to pepsin-soluble human basement membrane-derived type IV collagen in mice has been characterized. Both T cell proliferative and antibody responses have been shown to be under major histocompatibility complex (MHC)-linked Ir gene control in inbred and MHC congenic mice. However, unlike previous examples studied, this response shows a separation of these two types of immunologic responsiveness. Only mice having I-As give potent in vitro T cell proliferative responses to type IV collagen whereas all mice except those having I-As give high antibody responses to this antigen. In (I-As X I-Anon-s) F1 mice, the T cell proliferative response was dominant, whereas antibody responses were markedly reduced compared with the responder parent. Given the recent demonstration that class II MHC-restricted, L3T4+ T cells can be divided into two sets, one of which helps for antibody responses and the other of which produces interleukin 2 and can also suppress such responses, it seems likely that these data can be accounted for on the basis of differential activation by this antigen of these two cell sets in mice of different MHC genotypes.

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