We present evidence here for two stages in B-memory cell development, the first of which is T independent and the second T dependent. For these studies, we use a new type of T-deficient mouse (allotype suppressed) which specifically lacks T-helper activity (Th) for a subset of memory B cells responsible for approximately 10% of the overall IgG antibody response. We have shown elsewhere that these mice (SJL X BALB/c hybrids suppressed for Ig-1b) lack Th capable of helping Ig-1b memory cells, although they have normal Th activity for all other IgG memory B cells. This selective Th deficiency allows study of the effects of T depletion on memory development and avidity maturation of one population of B cells under conditions where the bulk of the immune response in the animal is proceeding normally, thus obviating environmental problems due to secondary effects of T depletion. With this sytem, we show that after a single priming dose of 2,4-dinitrophenyl-keyhole limpet hemocyanin, the memory B-cell pool in suppressed and nonsuppressed donors is indistinguishable with respect to magnitude and avidity of the response for all IgG antibodies produced, including Ig-1b antibody, despite the fact that expression of Ig-1b memory cells is prevented in intact Ig-1b-suppressed mice by the absence of Th capbale of cooperating with these memory cells. We have shown elsewhere that virtually all of the Ig-1b memory is carried by Ig-1b bearing cells. In contrast with the lack of suppressor T-cell effect on initial Ig-1b memory cell development, our data show that continued Ig-1b memory development is selectively impaired in suppressed mice. When primed mice are boosted repeatedly with the priming antigen, the average avidity of most of the IgG memory cells increases over 100-fold while there is no avidity increase in the Ig-1b component. To explain these data, we suggest that the development of high avidity memory occurs in two stages. The first stage, which occurs as a result of primary antigenic exposure, is the creation of a pool of IgG-bearing memory cells with a relatively low average avidity for the antigen. The appearance of these first stage memory cells does not require help from (post-thymic) Th, although Th are required for the expression of these memory cells (antibody production). The second stage of B-memory development requires both further antigenic stimulation and B-memory cell interaction with competent Th. This is a continuing process in which the number of memory cells in the pool remains relatively constant but the average avidity of these cells increases with continued antigenic exposure.

This content is only available as a PDF.