Heterogeneity with regard to affinity of anti-hapten antibody was demonstrated at the cellular level in mice. The heterogeneity was shown at the level of single antibody-forming cells using hapten inhibition of hemolytic antibody plaque formation as a measure of affinity. The affinity increased with time after immunization. A high antigen dose initially resulted in relatively low affinity antibody production as compared to the affinity of the antibody production in animals immunized with a low dose.
Affinity specialization of immunological memory cells was demonstrated, since it was possible to specifically fractionate such cells with regard to affinity on hapten-protein-coated plastic bead columns. High affinity memory cells showed a higher tendency to become retained in the columns than did low affinity memory cells.
The data in a direct way demonstrate that memory cells carrying membrane-associated receptors of a certain affinity for the antigen are determined to release antibody of a similar affinity after stimulation with antigen.