Glass and plastic bead columns coated with antigenic protein molecules were used as an immunological filter for cell populations containing immune cells of relevant specificity. A selective elimination of these immune cells from the passing cell suspension was regularly noted and it approached, in some experiments, complete abolition of the specific immune reactivity of the filtered cell population. This specific retention of immune cells by antigenic columns could be selectively blocked by the presence of free antigen molecules in the medium during filtration. The results obtained support the concept of a cell-associated antigen-specific receptor being present on the outer surface of immune cells, displaying the same antigen-binding specificity as the potential product of the cell, the humoral antibody. Using the present bead column system, results were obtained indicating that this receptor was an active product of the immune cells and not any passively adsorbed, cytophilic antibody.
Antigenic bead columns may very well constitute a tool for the production in vitro of cell populations being specifically deprived of immune reactivity and allow detailed analysis of the characteristics of the cell-associated antibody of immune cells.