The experiments presented here were designed to investigate whether the idiotypic repertoire is equally distributed among B cells subpopulations as defined by mitogen reactivity. To this end we used lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and Nocardia delipidated cell mitogens (NDCM), which are two mitogens that have been described to act on different B cell subsets. The repertoire can be defined in quantitative terms as the frequency of B cells that are precursors for clones secreting immunoglobulin with a given specificity or with a determinate idiotype. We determined, therefore, the absolute frequency of LPS- and NDCM-sensitive B lymphocytes secreting immunoglobulin molecules that bear three idiotopes originally found on a monoclonal anti-beta galactosidase antibody. Because the frequencies of B cells carrying one of these idiotypes are dramatically different in the LPS- and NDCM-sensitive B cells subsets, we conclude that the idiotypic repertoire is not randomly distributed among mitogen-reactive B cell subpopulations.

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