Studies were undertaken in man and in the rat comparing the effects of rheumatoid factors and immune antiglobulins on red cells sensitized with incomplete antibodies.
The interaction of immune antiglobulins with sensitized red cells produced (a) agglutination in vitro and (b) an accelerated sequestration of the sensitized cells in vivo. In contrast, rheumatoid macroglobulins, although capable of agglutinating Rh-sensitized red cells in vitro, did not modify their destruction in vivo. The failure of rheumatoid factors to function as antiglobulins in vivo appears to reflect their non-reactivity with sensitized cells in whole serum.
It is suggested: (a) that the native (7S) gamma globulins of plasma competitively inhibit rheumatoid factors from reacting with fixed antibody in the blood stream; (b) that if these macroglobulins do indeed have pathogenetic activity, this may be limited to body fluids of low protein content.