Peyer's patches (PP) from adult conventionally raised (C) and germ-free (GF) rats of the same age differed strikingly in the distributions of cells bearing membrane-bound immunoglobulin of the different isotypes. High concentrations of cells with membrane-bound IgE (approximately 20% of total cells determined by indirect immunofluorescence) were found in PP of rats, whereas IgE+ cells were absent from PP of C rats. The numbers of IgA+ cells were almost threefold higher in PP of GF rats when compared with C rats. In contrast, PP of GF rats had greatly reduced numbers of IgM-bearing cells (4%) when compared with C rats (23%); in some experiments virtually no IgM-bearing cells were detected. The levels of IgA- and IgE-bearing cells in spleen of GF rats were increased (to 11% and 7%, respectively). Of the IgE-bearing cells in PP and spleen of GF rats, approximately one-half were simultaneously positive for IgA. When these PP cells were treated with pronase to remove membrane bound immunoglobulins and maintained in culture, both IgE and IgA reappeared within 12 h. The proportion of doubly labeled cells was similar to that of the untreated population. No IgE+ cells were detected in bone marrow of C of GF rats at any time, in agreement with the findings of Ishizaka et al., although up to 20% of bone marrow cells bore other immunoglobulin isotypes, suggesting that IgE-bearing cells arise in the PP either de novo or by switching from precursors carrying IgM or IgA.

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