Specific IgM and Regulation of Antibody Responses
Specific IgM, administered together with the antigen it recognizes, enhances primary antibody responses, formation of germinal centers, and priming for secondary antibody responses. The response to all epitopes on the antigen to which IgM binds is usually enhanced. IgM preferentially enhances responses to large antigens such as erythrocytes, malaria parasites, and keyhole limpet hemocyanine. In order for an effect to be seen, antigens must be administered in suboptimal concentrations and in close temporal relationship to the IgM. Enhancement is dependent on the ability of IgM to activate complement, but the lytic pathway is not required. Enhancement does not take place in mice lacking complement receptors 1 and 2 (CR1/2) suggesting that the role of IgM is to generate C3 split products, i.e., the ligands for CR1/2. In mice, these receptors are expressed on follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) and B cells. Optimal IgM-mediated enhancement requires that both cell types express CR1/2, but intermediate enhancement is seen when only FDCs express the receptors and low enhancement when only B cells express them. These observations imply that IgM-mediated enhancement works through several, non-mutually exclusive, pathways. Marginal zone B cells can transport IgM-antigen-complement complexes, bound to CR1/2, from the marginal zone and deposit them onto FDCs. In addition, co-crosslinking of the BCR and the CR2/CD19/CD81 co-receptor complex may enhance signaling to specific B cells, a mechanism likely to be involved in induction of early extrafollicular antibody responses.
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