Blastoid cell cultures derived from leukocytes of patients in the acute stage of infectious mononucleosis (IM) and harboring Epstein-Barr (EB) virus in at least 1% of the cells were found to possess antigens in their membranes which presently are indistinguishable from those detected in Burkitt's lymphoma (BL) cells by the techniques employed. It was noted that, in the course of IM, antibodies are formed which react in indirect immunofluorescence tests with membrane antigens of live cells from Burkitt tumor lines as well as from IM leukocyte cultures, including an autochthonous line in the case of one patient. Sets of sera from IM patients were tested which included a serum collected weeks to years before onset of illness. In the majority of these the pre-IM serum failed to react in membrane immunofluorescence (MIF) tests with any of several Burkitt tumor cell lines employed, but in some cases the presera reacted with cells of some but not others of the lines. Possible explanations for these discrepant results have been discussed.
The antibodies involved in the MIF test are evidently distinct from those responsible for the EBV and heterophile reactions. Maximal MIF activity is attained long after the other two antibodies have reached maximal titers and antibodies to EBV and membrane antigens seem to persist for years whereas the heterophile reaction turns negative within a few months.