The mechanisms whereby formed immune complexes (IC) or immunoglobulin aggregates can suppress further antibody production were explored by culturing normal human peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes (PBL) with heat-aggregated IgG (HAIgG) and collecting the culture supernatants at 24 hr. These supernatants were found to suppress a pokeweed mitogen (PWM)-induced rheumatoid factor plaque-forming cell (RF-PFC) response in normal individuals. PWM-induced anti-trinitrophenylated sheep red blood cell (TNP-SRBC) PFC were also inhibited by suppressor supernatants from HAIgG-stimulated PBL, suggesting that the polyclonal PFC response was inhibited by a suppressor factor. The suppressor factor inhibited PWM stimulated RF-PFC throughout the culture period, but suppression was maximal at the peak of the RF-PFC response. Suppressor factor was only effective at the initiation of cultures, suggesting that it inhibited early events in the PWM-stimulated RF-PFC response. Molecular weight determination of the suppressor factor by differential membrane fractionation suggested a m.w. range of 30,000 to 50,000, and chromatography on Sephadex G-100 showed a peak activity at an approximate m.w. of 32,000. Studies suggested the factor was not an interferon. Depletion of T lymphocytes by E rosetting and macrophages/monocytes by G-10 adherence did not affect the generation of suppressor factor. Depletion of T lymphocytes (OKT4, OKT8) and NK cells (Leu-11b) by antibody-dependent, complement-mediated cytotoxicity also did not affect the generation of suppressor factor. Depletion of B lymphocytes with OKB7 resulted in the generation of significantly less suppressor factor. Suppression produced by unstimulated purified B lymphocytes was approximately one-half that seen when B lymphocytes were stimulated with HAIgG. Differential membrane fractionation studies suggested that only HAIgG-stimulated B cell cultures contained peak activity in the 30,000 to 50,000 m.w. fraction. Supernatants from unstimulated purified T cells also generated suppression, which was approximately one-half of that seen with HAIgG-stimulated B cells, but no increase in suppressor activity was seen in T cell cultures after incubation with HAIgG. These studies demonstrate that HAIgG is capable of stimulating B lymphocytes to produce a lymphokine, suppressive B cell factor (SBF), which is capable of suppressing a polyclonal PFC response. SBF may be important in feedback control of human immunoglobulin production.

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