The immunogenicity of soluble haptenated polymers is determined by molecular mass and hapten valence

R. Z. Dintzis, M. Okajima, M. H. Middleton, G. Greene, H. M. Dintzis

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144 Scopus citations


T cell-independent Ag are believed to stimulate antibody formation in the relative absence of Ag processing and T cell help. Previous studies on the type 2 T cell independent (TI-2) Ag DNP-polyacrylamide, have shown that when one systematically varies the molecular mass and hapten valence, the immunogenic potential of this type of molecule depends on definable molecular characteristics. It was found that to be immunogenic, these molecules had to exceed a threshold molecular mass of 100,000 Da and a threshold hapten valence of 20. The present study was undertaken to determine whether such findings could be generalized to other molecules belonging to the TI-2 class of Ag. The molecular characteristics of five chemically different fluoresceinated (FL)-polymers were systematically varied, and their ability to stimulate an IgM antihapten immune response was measured. The polymers used as carriers were carefully size-fractionated and consisted to one natural polymer (dextran), one modified natural polymer (carboxymethyl cellulose), and three synthetic polymers (Ficoll, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyacrylamide). The carriers varied in physical structure from the highly cross-linked Ficoll, to the somewhat branched dextran, to the linear polyacrylamide, carboxylmethyl cellulose, and polyvinyl alcohol. Polymers were haptenated with FL and size-fractionated so as to yield a panel of molecules with varying molecular mass, hapten valence, and hapten density. Anti-FL IgM response to these haptenated polymers was measured in vivo after i.p. injection of the FL-polymer in saline, and measured in vitro after culture with unfractionated spleen cells from naive mice. In agreement with the previous studies on DNP-polyacrylamide, it was found that to be immunogenic, each of the FL-polymers had to exceed a comparable threshold value of molecular mass and of hapten valence. Optimal immunogenicity occurred when the FL-polymers had values of mass and hapten density lying within a predictable range. Immunogenicity decreased when these optimal parameters were substantially increased or decreased. We conclude that the immunogenicity of soluble haptenated polymers depends on predictable physical molecular characteristics, and is relatively independent of the chemical composition and conformation of the carrier polymer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1239-1244
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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