Peritoneal cells (PC) from normal, unimmunized mice were placed in ultra-thin monolayer cultures containing carboxymethylcellulose (CMC), sheep red blood cells (SRBC), and complement, and tested for the appearance of plaques of lysis. The behavior of PC from young male mice and from female mice that had given birth to several litters (retired breeder mice) was studied.

It was found that cells from spleen, mesenteric lymph node, thymus, bone marrow, thoracic duct lymph, or Peyer's patches could not form plaques in the CMC microcultures. Also, various combinations of these cells did not lead to plaque formation. When cells from any of these sources were mixed with PC, there was either no effect or an actual inhibition of plaque formation, the plaque counts being lower than would have been expected from the number of PC present in the mixture.

Optimal plaque formation by peritoneal cells was found to be dependent on an optimal cell concentration, this optimum being around 5 x 106/ml for young male mice and 0.5 x 106/ml for retired breeders. Inhibition of plaque formation was found with either supra- or suboptimal cell concentrations. The inhibition by excess cell concentration may have been a simple nutritional or nonspecific overcrowding effect, as it could also be induced by an addition of an excess of spleen or lymph node cells. The failure of more dilute PC preparations to give adequate numbers of plaques appeared to be more specific, as plaque numbers could not be restored to normal by addition of spleen cells. The suggestion was that some cell to cell interaction between PC was involved. This dependence on cell concentration was not seen with immunized spleen PFC.

Plaque appearance could be specifically and reversibly suppressed by placing PC in a medium containing rabbit anti-mouse IgM serum. Anti-IgG serum had no such effect. These experiments strengthened our view, expressed in the accompanying paper, that plaque formation was due to the formation of IgM, hemolytic antibody to SRBC by the PC.

Metabolic inhibitors were incorporated into monolayer cultures and had different effects with the different types of PFC used. In the case of spleen cells from mice actively immunized against SRBC 4 days before killing, actinomycin D had no effect on plaque counts and puromycin reduced plaque numbers by a factor of 2. In the case of PC from young male mice, actinomycin D in concentrations above 0.01 µg/ml caused reductions down to < 2% of control values in plaque counts, and puromycin (10 µg/ml) had a similar effect. The PC from retired breeder mice occupied an intermediate position between the two cases just discussed. A compartment of cells, equal to about one-fifth of the total normal PFC compartment, was identified as resistant to high concentrations of either actinomycin D or puromycin, being similar in these respects to PFC from spleens of intentionally preimmunized mice. The mitotic poison, Colcemid, did not affect plaque counts in any situation tested.

The theoretical implications of these results are briefly discussed.

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