Antigen Competition: A Paradox

Science  04 Dec 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3962, pp. 1108-1110
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3962.1108


Immunization of mice with pig erythrocytes caused impairment of the antibody response to subsequent immunization with sheep erythrocytes, a phenomenon called "antigen competition." Paradoxically, spleen cells from mice previously injected with pig erythrocytes produced an increased response when immunized in vitro with sheep erythrocytes. Augmentation of the in vitro response is due to an increase in one of the interacting cell types. "Antigen competition" is not due to competition for cells. Cell transfer experiments provided evidence that "antigen competition" observed in animals is the result of a humoral factor, presumably antibody, present in the animal but eliminated during preparation of cells for culture.