Efferent lymph of the popliteal lymph nodes of rabbits was collected 4 days after a single footpad injection of SRBC. Thin-layer agar plating was done to isolate plaque-forming cells of the lymph for electron microscope examination, and the numbers of plaque-forming cells (PFC) in cells from the lymph and lymph nodes were determined.
Of 71 PFC of lymph isolated and examined, 93% were lymphocytes, most of them with signs of substantial levels of physiologic activity. The cytoplasm showed an abundance of free ribosomes and many finger-like projections. The endoplasmic reticulum (ER) was barely detectable in most of the active lymphocytic PFC, and in some, a few short narrow channels of ER could be seen. Approximately one-fifth of the lymphocytic PFC presented an appearance of senescence, with signs of degeneration: rounded cells, with amorphous nuclear chromatin, and very few microvilli. The remaining 7% of the PFC of the lymph showed an unusual combination of features: small round cells with a narrow ring of cytoplasm which, however, contained well-organized channels of ER. Such cells had been found only among PFC of peripheral blood of the rabbit.
The number of PFC per million cells was higher in the lymph than in the suspensions of lymph node cells. In both the contralateral lymph node and its efferent lymph, the number of PFC was less than 1% that of the injected side.