The effect of specific and nonspecific stimuli on the cycle status of subsets of primary B lymphocytes was assessed by preinjecting donor CBA mice 1 to 2 days previously with various substances, and then incubating the isolated spleen cells with high specific activity 3H-TdR before assay. AFC-progenitor activity was assessed as a response to NIP-POL antigen, either by adoptive transfer to irradiated recipients or by cell culture. Previous studies showed these assays reflected the activity of different subsets of B cells, termed “pre-progenitors” (adoptive assay) and “direct progenitors” (culture assay).

Most functional primary B cells, whether assayed in culture or by adoptive transfer, were not initially in rapid cell cycle in normal adult mice. However, nonspecific stimulation for 1 day caused NIP-specific adoptive transfer IgM AFC-progenitors to enter rapid cell cycle. This effect was independent of T cells and not related to the antigenicity of the stimulus: particulate peritoneal irritants were the most effective stimulants. In contrast to adoptive transfer results, AFC-progenitors assayed in cell culture were unaffected by nonspecific stimuli, but were activated into cell cycle by specific antigen.


This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia.

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