Subpopulations of B lymphocytes have been shown to vary in their expression of Ia alloantigens and polyclonal responsiveness to thymic independent antigens. We have demonstrated that the polyclonal B cell antibody response to dextran sulfate is less sensitive to removal of Ia-positive cells than is the response to LPS. This is a consistent finding whether alloantibody and complement (C) pretreatment is directed toward cells bearing Ia antigens coded for by the entire I region or by the I-A or I-E subregions.

Heterogeneity appears to exist within the dextran sulfate-sensitive population in that using high antibody:cell ratios during antibody and C-mediated cell selection results in an inhibition of the proliferative but not the antibody response. This result may indicate a differential expression of Ia antigens on dextran sulfate-sensitive B cells that respond by proliferation versus those cells that produce antibody. Alternatively, proliferative responses to dextran sulfate may be more dependent upon Ia-positive accessory cells than is the polyclonal antibody response.

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This work was supported by United States Public Health Service Grant AI 12734.

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