Abnormalities of B-cell activation and immunoregulation in patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

N Engl J Med. 1983 Aug 25;309(8):453-8. doi: 10.1056/NEJM198308253090803.


We studied B-lymphocyte function in 12 homosexual male patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, 5 healthy homosexual men, and 12 heterosexual controls. In comparison with the heterosexual controls, the patients were found to have elevated numbers of cells spontaneously secreting immunoglobulin, decreased B-cell proliferative responses to T-cell-independent B-cell mitogens, and qualitatively deficient helper T cells. The hyperactive spontaneous B-cell responses as well as the refractoriness to signals for T-cell-independent B-cell activation were highly suggestive of an in vivo polyclonal activation of B cells and may have been responsible for the manifestations of B-cell hyperreactivity, such as hypergammaglobulinemia, seen in these patients. We conclude that the scope of immune dysfunction in the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome involves B cells as well as T cells.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antibody Formation
  • Antibody-Producing Cells
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Hemolytic Plaque Technique
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Hypergammaglobulinemia / etiology
  • Immunoglobulins / analysis
  • Immunoglobulins / biosynthesis*
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology


  • Immunoglobulins