In spite of the prenatal appearance of immunoglobulin-bearing lymphocytes and θ-positive lymphocytes in the spleens of Swiss-L mice, these mice are not able to produce detectable levels of humoral antibodies in response to antigen until after 1 wk of age. Adult levels of response are not achieved until 4–8 wk of age. In the presence of bacterial lipopolysaccharides, which can substitute for or enhance T-cell function, the B cells from young Swiss-L mice were found to be indistinguishable in function from adult B cells, both with respect to the numbers of plaque-forming cells (PFC) produced in vitro in response to antigen and with respect to the kinetics of PFC induction. The spleen cells from young Swiss-L mice are significantly less sensitive than adult spleen cells, however, to stimulation by the T cell mitogens, concanavalin A (Con A) and phytohemagglutinin (PHA). Very few Con A-responsive cells could be detected at birth but the numbers increased sharply with age until 3 wk after birth. On the other hand, PHA-responsive cells could not be detected in the spleen until about 3 wk of age. The latter cells were found to respond also to Con A, but at a lower dose (1 µg/ml) than that required for the bulk of the Con A-responsive cells (3 µg/ml). The cells that respond both to PHA and to Con A appear in the spleen at about the time that Swiss-L mice acquire the ability to produce humoral antibodies, and these cells can be depleted from the spleen by the in vivo administration of antithymocyte serum. The development of humoral immune responses in these mice therefore appears to be correlated with the appearance of recirculating T lymphocytes that are responsive both to PHA and to Con A.

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