Rheumatoid factors, autologous IgM anti-IgG, were produced after immunization with protein or carbohydrate antigens. After immunization with either type of antigen, the kinetics of the rheumatoid factor response reflected the kinetics of the dominant IgG isotype in the anti-antigen response. Secondary immunization with protein antigens induced an IgM rheumatoid factor response which was consistently greater than that seen after carbohydrate immunization, and almost exclusively specific for the IgG1 isotype. In contrast, primary or hyperimmunization with carbohydrate antigens gave rise to a more heterogeneous response dominated by IgM anti-IgG3, with lesser amounts of IgM anti-IgG2b and anti-IgG1. Direct immunization with immune complexes gave similar results, as complexes composed of IgG1 induced exclusively IgM anti-IgG1, whereas those complexes made up of IgG3 gave rise to IgM rheumatoid factors binding IgG3 and IgG2b. Rheumatoid factor production, with isotypic specificity defined by the immunizing antigen, appears to be a natural consequence of immunization with a variety of protein and carbohydrate antigens.

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