The isotype distribution of Dextran B 512 (Dex)-specific plaque-forming cells (PFC) and serum antibodies was studied after in vivo immunization in C57BL/6 mice. Although IgG2b and IgG3 could also be detected in most individuals, the majority of non-IgM PFC were of the IgA isotype. All classes other than IgM were T cell-dependent, as shown by their complete absence in athymic "nude" mice. This unusual isotype pattern was further investigated by studying the antibody responses to the same Dex epitope coupled to a protein carrier, and to a different hapten coupled to the carrier Dex or to a protein. The results show that IgA responses are epitope-related and selectively associated with anti-Dex antibodies: no IgA PFC are detected against a hapten coupled to Dex or proteins, while the enhanced levels of helper cell reactivity provided by protein carrier to Dex result in the appearance of IgG1 antibodies in addition to IgA. These results indicate that T cells that modulate isotype patterns in these responses can discriminate between Dex- and DNP-specific B cells in the response to the same carrier. Since the same idiotype is detected on a large fraction of the IgM and IgA anti-Dex response and antiidiotypic helper cells have previously been detected in normal C57BL/6 mice, we suggest that idiotype-specific T cells control the production of IgA antibodies upon immunization with Dex.

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