Rabbits were immunized with p-azobenzene arsonic acid derivatives of human serum albumin (HA-As) or of dissociated keyhole limpet hemocyanin. The IgM response to the hapten was evaluated in terms of the number of hapten-specific plaque-forming cells in the lymph node draining the injection site. In some experiments, antibody was measured by agglutination of tanned and sensitized erythrocytes.
The hapten response of animals immunized with HA-As was increased (promoting effect) when the animals were injected with one of several structurally unrelated macromolecules: keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), horse spleen ferritin (HSF), lysozyme (Lys), alum-precipitated human gamma globulin (alum-precipitated HGG). Different macromolecules differed in the magnitude of the promoting effect they induced, e.g., promotion by the associated form of KLH was greater than that by the dissociated form; alum-precipitated HGG was a better promoter than was soluble HGG. The relative magnitude of promotion by different macromolecules (associated vs. dissociated KLH, alum-precipitated vs. soluble HGG) correlated with the relative magnitude of the carrier effect, as judged by the hapten response induced by p-azobenzene arsonic acid conjugated to various proteins. Promotion was detected by agglutination assay of circulating antibody, by plaque assay of cells from the popliteal lymph node draining the site of preinjection, but not by plaque assay of cells from the contralateral lymph node. Promotion was dependent on the dose of the promoting macromolecule and on the dose of the hapten-protein conjugate. It was not observed in animals tolerant to the promoting macromolecule. Inhibition (i.e. antigenic competition), rather than promotion, was observed upon a secondary response to the preinjected macromolecule or when the hapten-protein conjugate was incorporated in Freund's adjuvant.