Synthetic polyribonucleotide complexes, which have been shown to be potent adjuvants to the immune response of animals and humans were tested for their capacity to activate cells involved in suppressing antibody synthesis. Poly A : poly U and poly I : poly C inhibited murine antibody forming spleen cells when given 1-6 days before antigenic stimulus. To determine the cellular and molecular mediators of this suppression, individual cell populations were isolated or deleted and the resulting cell populations tested for induction of suppression. When the natural killer (NK) cell population was rendered non-functional with anti-asialo GM1 antiserum no diminution in suppressive activity was observed. Further experiments implicated adherent cells as the population responsible for mediating suppression. Supernatants from poly A : poly U-treated adherent cells were found both to contain increased levels of prostaglandin E (PGE) and to induce a significant decrease in antibody production when added to in vitro spleen cell cultures. In addition, indomethacin, an inhibitor of the cyclo-oxygenase pathway of the arachidonic acid cascade was found to reverse the suppression of antibody induced by poly A : poly U. Thus, the polyribonucleotide complexes appear to suppress antibody synthesis by inducing macrophages to secrete PGE, a known immune suppressant.
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Acknowledgements -- This research was supported by the Office of Naval Research under contract N00014-82-K-0635. We wish to thank Ms Karen Kolquist for assistance with the NK assays.