The “Ia-like” antigens characteristically present on the membrane of B lymphocytes were shown to be absent in most terminally differentiated Ig-producing plasma cells. This was most evident in analyses of myeloma plasma cells that uniformly lacked the Ia-antigens. Also, in B lymphoid cell lines, the lymphoblasts were uniformly Ia-positive but the plasma cells were negative. In contrast, however, the majority of plasma cells produced after pokeweed mitogen stimulation remained positive. Plasma cells in tonsil and in the tissue of peripheral blood of patients with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia were also sometimes Ia-positive although the majority were negative. Studies of membrane IgM and IgD indicated a similar loss in some instances. However, the SIg and Ia antigens were not invariably associated. These results lead to the conclusion that Ia-antigens are differentiation antigens for B cells and are usually lost by the end stage cells in this series.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health Grant RR-102, United States Public Health Service Grant AI 10811, and the National Leukemia Association.