Antibody-forming cells (AFC), developing in toad spleen after stimulation with polymerized flagellin, were studied with an immune adherence assay. Differentiation was followed by several parameters: thymidine uptake to monitor dividing cells; equilibrium density centrifugation in albumin gradients to monitor cell density; microscopic measurements and sedimentation velocity separation to monitor cell size; stained preparations to follow cell morphology. Almost all AFC observed early in the response were dividing cells; the proportion of dividing AFC dropped to 4% 2 wk after stimulation. The earliest AFC detected (3 days) formed a relatively homogeneous light density population, and were purified 17-fold by equilibrium density centrifugation. As the response developed, additional denser peaks were found, so that late in the response dense AFC predominated. Dividing AFC were confined to the light density region throughout the response. Cell diameter measurements revealed that the earliest AFC were all very large cells. In a manner analogous to the density changes, smaller AFC appeared as the response developed until they finally comprised the majority of the AFC population. Dividing AFC were always relatively large, but encompassed a wide range of sizes. Sedimentation velocity separation was employed in a closer study of the immature AFC; they were purified 140-fold by this procedure. The earliest AFC consisted of several readily separable size populations in the range 9–18 µ diameter. The presence of separate peaks related by factors of two in volume suggested that the largest cells undergo a series of halving divisions before entering a division growth cycle. The results suggest an AFC differentiation sequence from a very large, light density, dividing "blast" cell to a nondividing cell with the size, density, and morphological appearance of a small lymphocyte. Stages of this sequence can be defined and selected out for investigation, using sedimentation velocity and equilibrium density centrifugation as complementary techniques.

This content is only available as a PDF.