Studies of the ontogeny of the immune response to B512 dextran (Dex) show that antibody responses equal to those of adult mice are not attained until 12 wk of age. We have examined the anti-Dex response after immunization with a thymus-dependent antigen isomaltohexaosyl-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (IM6-KLH) and have shown that the development of the cross-reacting anti-Dex response parallels the development of Lyb-5+ B cells. Adult levels of anti-Dex antibody after immunization with IM6-KLH are achieved in mice between 3 and 12 wk of age, a time when Lyb-5+ cells have reached adult levels. Neonatal mice, immunized at 1 d or 1 wk after birth, failed to produce a significant amount of anti-Dex antibodies, although they did produce IM6-specific antibodies after immunization with IM6-KLH. Data, which support the conclusion from these experiments that Lyb-5+ cells are required for an anti-polysaccharide response even when the immunizing antigen is thymus-dependent, include the failure of IM6-KLH to stimulate a normal anti-Dex response in mice with the xid defect and the direct demonstration in normal adult mice that elimination of Lyb-5+ cells from spleens of mice primed with IM6-KLH abolishes the ability of these cells to transfer an anti-Dex response. The data imply that the expressed B cell repertoire in adult animals is skewed such that the vast majority of B cells capable of responding to polysaccharide determinants are in the Lyb-5+ subset.

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