Lymph node cells from guinea pigs immunized with HSA in complete Freund's adjuvant were grown in cultures containing different concentrations of specific antigen. Stimulation of thymidine incorporation was induced with progressively lower concentrations of HSA at successive intervals after sensitization. Moreover, the intensity of delayed skin reactions and the magnitude of stimulation in vitro increased over the same interval. These events are considered compatible with an evolution of the cellular immune response resulting from the selection of lymphoid cells by decreasing concentrations of antigen in vivo.
Cells from animals rendered tolerant to HSA failed to respond to specific antigen in culture. As tolerance waned, stimulation was achieved at high but not low antigen concentrations. Tolerance, measured by cutaneous reactivity or by lymphocyte stimulation, was less readily induced in animals sensitized with adjuvant containing a reduced concentration of mycobacteria. Lymph nodes from these animals contained a large population of cells reactive at high antigen concentration, presumably less susceptible to the toleragenic effect of intravenous antigen.
The dissociation of delayed hypersensitivity and antibody formation observed early in the immune response and upon recovery from tolerance has permitted correlation of lymphocyte stimulation with delayed hypersensitivity and cutaneous basophil hypersensitivity respectively.