Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 10 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 9 control subjects were cultured in vitro for 30 days with and without infection by Epstein-Barr virus. All cultures showed polyclonal stimulation of B cells as indicated by rising levels of IgM in the culture supernates, reaching maximal at 18-24 days, and with no quantitative or kinetic difference between the RA and control cells. IgM anti-IgG was also produced in both groups and maximally at 18-24 days, but in greater quantity by the RA lymphocytes. The anti-IgG made by the RA lymphocytes was more easily absorbed by solid phase IgG than was the anti-IgG made by the normal lymphocytes and thus was judged to be of higher affinity. RA lymphocytes uninfected with EBV had higher transformation scores than did the normal controls and developed spontaneously into permanent cell lines in six instances.

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