Cross-idiotypic specificity has been demonstrated between antibody populations of different specificities using antibodies directed toward human sickle cell hemoglobin (HbS). A site-specific antibody directed toward the beta6-position of HbS, anti-Val, was used to elicit an anti-idiotypic response in rabbits. Using this anti-idiotypic serum, idiotypic cross-reactivity was demonstrated between antibody populations that bind to human adult hemoglobin (HbA). It was demonstrated that in the case of the goat antibodies, these idiotypically cross-reacting antibodies are directed towards the beta6-position of the hemoglobin molecule. However, they differ in their specificity, binding to this site on HbA, whereas anti-Val binds only to HbS. The sheep antibody populations directed toward HbS differ qualitatively from those of the goat. Using rabbit anti-idiotypic serum specific for sheep anti-Val, cross-reactivity could be demonstrated with antibodies directed toward the alpha-chain of the hemoglobin molecule, as well as the beta-chain. There was also a low level of cross-reactivity with antibodies from a goat immunized with HbA.

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