The respective production of specific immunoglobulin (Ig)G2a or IgG1 within 5 d of primary immunization with Swiss type mouse mammary tumor virus [MMTV(SW)] or haptenated protein provides a model for the development of T helper 1 (Th1) and Th2 responses. The antibody-producing cells arise from cognate T cell B cell interaction, revealed by the respective induction of Cγ2a and Cγ1 switch transcript production, on the third day after immunization. T cell proliferation and upregulation of mRNA for interferon γ in response to MMTV(SW) and interleukin 4 in response to haptenated protein also starts during this day. It follows that there is minimal delay in these responses between T cell priming and the onset of cognate interaction between T and B cells leading to class switching and exponential growth. The Th1 or Th2 profile is at least partially established at the time of the first cognate T cell interaction with B cells in the T zone.
The addition of killed Bordetella pertussis to the hapten-protein induces nonhapten-specific IgG2a and IgG1 plasma cells, whereas the anti-hapten response continues to be IgG1 dominated. This indicates that a Th2 response to hapten-protein can proceed in a node where there is substantial Th1 activity.