Inhibition of cell-dependent antibody-mediated cytotoxicity has been investigated as a new assay for antibody against cell surface antigens. The cytotoxicity system consisted of effector cells (normal mouse spleen cells), target cells (61Cr-labeled chicken erythrocytes), and antitarget cell antibody. Addition of antibody against cell surface antigens in the effector cell population regularly inhibited the cytotoxicity measured in this system. This cytotoxicity inhibition assay (CIA) detected antibody with a variety of specificities: anti-H-2, anti-Thy 1.2, anti-immunoglobulin, and antimouse bone marrow-derived lymphocyte antigen. When the inhibition by anti-H-2 sera was analyzed using effector cells from congenic mice, the activity was found to be directed against specificities mapping in the H-2K, H-2D, and I regions of the H-2 complex, correlating well with the specificities characterized by complement-dependent assays.

A comparison between the sensitivity of the CIA and complement-dependent lysis revealed that the CIA was 2–11 times more sensitive for anti-H-2 antisera and 20–780 times more sensitive for certain antisera against subpopulations of the spleen cells (i.e., T cells or B cells). The CIA proved to be precise, sensitive, and reliable. It may become a very useful antibody assay in various species including man.