In an in vivo study in mice, suppression by the C3-cleaving protein of cobra venom (CoF), and other C3-reactive agents (zymosan, aggregated IgG, anti-C3 antibodies, and type III pneumococcal polysaccharide) of the thymus-dependent antibody responses to sheep erythrocytes, ovalbumin, and human IgG was demonstrated. The thymus-independent antibody response to polyvinyl-pyrrolidone was however unaffected by CoF.
These and other published observations suggest that there may be a requirement for functional C3 in induction of thymus-dependent but not thymus-independent antibody production. A model for the role of C3 in lymphocyte cooperation is proposed based on these data analyzed in the light of existing knowledge of this process. It is postulated that fixed C3 interacting with macrophage
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and B-cell C3 receptors might enhance or facilitate T-dependent presentation of antigen to B cells.