Thymus-independent (B) lymphocytes from BCG-infected mice respond with enhanced or depressed levels of proliferation relative to the nonspecific levels of stimulation induced by tuberculin. The type of response obtained depends on how BCG was administered and the source of the lymphocytes. The proliferation of splenic B lymphocytes was depressed when BCG was given i.v. and unchanged when BCG was given subcutaneously, whereas the lymph node B cell response was enhanced regardless of the route of injecting BCG. BCG was found also to be a mitogen for normal B cells in vitro and to stimulate polyclonal activation of B cells in vivo. Finally, evidence is presented which indicates that the depressed splenic B cell response to tuberculin may be due to the activation of suppressor T cells.
This work was supported by Public Health Service Grant AI-11807 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.