Ly-1 B cells have the distinctive property of continuous self-replenishment and, as we have shown previously, can be further distinguished from conventional B cells on the basis of greatly elevated constitutive and inducible production of the recently described cytokine interleukin 10 (IL-10). To test the possibility that IL-10 acts as either an autocrine or paracrine growth factor for Ly-1 B cells, we treated mice continuously from birth to 8 wk of age with a monoclonal rat IgM antibody that specifically neutralizes mouse IL-10. Mice treated in this way lacked peritoneal-resident Ly-1 B cells, contained greatly reduced serum immunoglobulin M levels, and were unable to generate significant in vivo antibody responses to intraperitoneal injections of alpha 1,3-dextran or phosphorylcholine, antigens for which specific B cells reside in the Ly-1 B cell subset. In contrast, conventional splenic B cells of anti-IL-10-treated mice were normal with respect to total numbers, phenotype, and in vitro responsiveness to B cell mitogens and the thymus-dependent antigen trinitrophenyl-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (TNP-KLH). The mechanism of Ly-1 B cell depletion appeared to be related to elevation of endogenous interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) levels in anti-IL-10-treated mice, since coadministration of neutralizing anti-IFN-gamma antibodies substantially restored the number of peritoneal-resident Ly-1 B cells in these mice. These results implicate IL-10 as a regulator of Ly-1 B cell development, and identify a procedure to specifically deplete Ly-1 B cells, thereby allowing further evaluation of the role of these cells in the immune system.

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