When B lymphocytes from normal human peripheral blood were incubated for 1 hour with the retrovirus that causes the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), the B cells showed marked proliferation and differentiation. Proliferative responses to the virus peaked on day 4 and appeared to be independent of accessory cells. This finding was repeated with three separate viral isolates, one of which was from a patient from Zaire. The magnitude of the observed responses was comparable to that seen with standard polyclonal B-cell activators. This phenomenon may be at least partially responsible for the polyclonal B-cell activation seen in patients with AIDS.
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