The migration pattern, tissue distribution, and turnover rate of unprimed and primed B lymphocytes involved in the adoptive anti-DNP response was studied. The adoptive primary response restored by unprimed spleen or thoracic duct cells passaged through an intermediate host (intravenous injection and subsequent collection in the thoracic duct lymph) was markedly diminished as compared with that restored by unpassaged cells. On the other hand, the adoptive response restored by passaged spleen or thoracic duct cells from DNP-primed donors was greater than or the same as that restored with unpassaged cells, respectively. This suggests that unprimed B cells change from nonrecirculating to recirculating lymphocytes after exposure to antigen.

Studies of the adoptive anti-DNP response restored by unprimed or primed bone marrow cells showed little change in the time-course or amplitude of the response restored by either population of cells. The relative inability of marrow cells to carry immunological memory was related to the inability of recirculating memory cells to penetrate the marrow.

The turnover rate of unprimed and primed B cells was investigated by treating the cell donors with [3H]thymidine for 48 h before removal of thoracic duct or spleen cells. The adoptive anti-DNP response restored by unprimed or primed cells was not affected by [3H]thymidine treatment. This indicates that both populations of cells turn over slowly. However, our previous studies show that unprimed B cells involved in the adoptive antibody response to ferritin turn over rapidly. The different findings are discussed in the context of antigen-dependent B-cell maturation.

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