Use of a human plaque-forming cell assay to study peripheral blood bursa-equivalent cell activation and excessive suppressor cell activity in humoral immunodeficiency.
A plaque assay that detects human mononuclear blood cells producing immunoglobulin (Ig)M antibody to sheep erythrocytes was investigated for its usefulness in studying B-cell activation and regulation in 24 patients with humoral immunodeficiency. Cells from 3 of 15 patients with common variable agammaglobulinemia produced some plaques (range 40--160/10(6) cells; normal range 80--1240/10(6)), but those from the other 12, from all 7 with x-linked agammaglobulinemia and from the 2 with x-linked immunodeficiency with hyper-IgM failed to produce any detectable plaques. In co-cultures of patient and normal cells a very good correlation was seen between results of the plaque assay and an IgM biosynthesis assay in detecting excessive suppressor cell activity. Cells from 7 of 15 common variable agammaglobulinemics, from 3 of 7 x-linked agammaglobulinemics, and from both patients with hyper-IgM caused significant suppression of IgM biosynthesis and(or) plaque formation by normal cells. The observations in the last two groups and discordance for excess suppressor activity in identical twins with common variable agammaglobulinemia suggest that the activity develops secondarily to whatever their primary defects may be. Culturing non-T cells from common variable agammaglobulinemics exhibiting excessive suppressor cell activity with normal T cells resulted in plaque formation in four of five patients so studied; in all five the suppressor activity was found in the T-cell population. The availability of a plaque assay for the study of blood cells from immunodeficient patients provides a new probe to examine the cellular nature of such defects.
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