Purified protein derivative (PPD) tuberculin induced immunoglobulin production in cultures of nonimmune mouse spleen cells, as measured by plaque-forming cells (PFC) against sheep erythrocytes (SRBC), horse erythrocytes, and 4-hydroxy-3,5-dinitrophenacetyl-SRBC. The increase started between 15 and 20 h of culture and reached a peak at 48–72 h. Higher PPD concentrations resulted in earlier peak responses than low concentrations. The Ig produced was mainly 19S and of very low avidity. The response elicited by PPD was of the same type as that caused by lipopolysaccharide of bacterial origin. Mitomycin treatment of cells before culture did not change the numbers of PFC/106 recovered cells but the cell recovery was considerably lower.
Also injection of PPD in vivo resulted in increased numbers of PFC. On the basis of these results it is suggested that PPD nonspecifically activates a majority of the B cell population to proliferation and immunoglobulin synthesis.