B cell neoplasms are clonal expansions of B lymphocytes thought to be frozen at various points along the normal B cell differentiation pathway. We studied cell suspensions from lymph nodes involved by follicular (nodular) non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to determine the capacity of the malignant B cells to secrete immunoglobulin (Ig). Neoplastic B cells from all 14 follicular lymphomas secreted monoclonal immunoglobulin in culture when appropriate signals were provided. In most cases, maximal Ig secretion occurred when autologous T cells were removed by E rosette depletion, replaced with allogeneic normal T cells, and the cultures were exposed to 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13- acetate. Autologous T cells exerted a suppressor effect on Ig secretion in 8/8 cases studied, diminishing the response of the malignant B cells to allogeneic T cells. This suppressor effect did not correlate with the percentage of cells staining with anti-Leu-2a or with “helper- suppressor” (Leu-3a-Leu-2a) ratios of the lymph node T cells. Our findings demonstrate that the arrested differentiation of most follicular lymphomas is reversible and implicate a T cell-mediated host immunoregulatory mechanism affecting Ig secretion in vivo. An additional contribution of our results is the demonstration of a cell culture system for synthesis of sufficient monoclonal Ig for use as an immunogen in production of anti-idiotype antibodies.

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