T cells from CAF1 mice immunized with various amounts of the type 2 antigen polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) were assessed for their ability to provide help to PVP-specific memory B cells for the production of IgG. Low doses (0.0025 micrograms) of PVP consistently activated helper T cells (Th), which were required for the production of IgG by primed B cells. In contrast, T cells from mice primed with higher amounts (0.25 or 25 micrograms) of PVP did not provide significant help to the same B cells for IgG production. Moreover, when mixed with B cells and low-dose PVP-primed Th, T cells from mice primed with 0.25 or 25 micrograms PVP suppressed PVP-specific IgG, but not IgM antibody responses. The suppressor cells induced by higher amounts of PVP were eliminated either by injecting cyclophosphamide (CY) before priming with PVP, or by treating the primed T cells with anti-Lyt-2.2 and C before transfer. Pretreatment of suppressor T cell (Ts) donors with CY or removal of Lyt-2+ T cells not only eliminated Ts activity, but also unmasked significant Th activity in the T cells from high-dose PVP-primed mice. Thus, both low and high amounts of PVP can activate Th, although high amounts of PVP also induce Ts, the activity of which predominates in a normal unfractionated T cell population. The amount of PVP (0.0025 micrograms) that induces dominant help for IgG memory responses was only marginally immunogenic for induction of primary PVP-specific IgM responses, while 0.25 and 25 micrograms PVP, which induce dominant suppression for IgG memory responses, are optimally immunogenic for primary IgM responses. These results are discussed in the context of the inability of most type 2 antigens to elicit primary IgG responses or to prime memory B cells for production of IgG, responses which are dependent on the function of antigen-specific Th.

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