In a search for possible genetic factors which may influence the immune response to the streptococcal carbohydrates, over 100 rabbits have been immunized with streptococcal vaccines, and representative examples of high and low response pairs mated. The concentration of precipitins to the group—specific carbohydrates has been measured in the antisera following primary intravenous immunization with heat-killed streptococcal vaccines, Group A, Group A-variant, and Group C. For the majority of rabbits, the concentration of precipitins varied between 1 and 10 mg/ml of antiserum; while in the minority, it was between 11 and 32 mg/ml. The offspring of rabbits with high antibody levels had a significantly higher concentration of antibody than was seen in the offspring of rabbits of low response parents. Such data suggest that the magnitude of the immune response to these carbohydrate antigens is under some form of genetic control.
Not uncommonly in rabbits with hyper-γ-globulinemia following primary immunization, the group-specific precipitins are the predominant component of the γ-globulin. An unusual feature of such components is that they are electrophoretically monodisperse, and possess individual antigenic specificity. In this respect they resemble the myeloma proteins. When a response of this sort is not seen after primary immunization, it may occur after secondary immunization. Therefore, prior exposure to the same or closely related antigen may also have an influence on the occurrence of high concentrations of such uniform antibodies.