A new assay system is described for the enumeration of antigen-specific IgE immunoglobulin-secreting cells (ISC) based on an enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. Using this technique to monitor the organ distribution of OVA-specific ISC after primary immunization of rats, approximately 12,000 specific IgE ISC were detected at the peak of the response in the draining lymph nodes compared with 117,000 IgG ISC; the splenic anti-OVA response was restricted to the IgM class. Using plates precoated with anti-rat IgE instead of antigen, total IgE ISC were enumerated in normal and helminth-parasitized rats. The assay system detected up to 5 X 10(5) IgE ISC in mesenteric lymph nodes from parasitized animals compared with less than 50 in controls.

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