Secondary immune responsiveness to dinitrophenylated bovine gamma globulin (DNP-BGG) was transferred to heavily irradiated rats by means of small lymphocytes from the thoracic duct of immunized syngeneic donors. Affinity of the antibody produced by the adoptive recipients when challenged immediately was the same as that seen in immunized controls and cell donors, suggesting that the performance of lymphocytes in the thoracic duct of immunized rats provide an accurate measure of the immunologic history of memory cells both in the intact animal and the lymphocyte-depleted donor. The relevance of this to cell cooperation in the production of antibody to hapten-protein complexes is discussed.
Direct evidence on antigen modulation of the immune response was also obtained. When immune thoracic duct lymphocytes were transferred to adoptive recipients and challenged either immediately or after a delay of 6 wk, it was found that, although the amount of antibody decreased with this delay in challenge, the affinity remained constant. Thus it would seem that in control rats, the increase in the affinity of antibody with time after immunization is, in fact, due to the selection of new populations of cells by the progressively waning concentration of antigen.