The role of specific antibodies in protective immunity to has not yet been clearly defined. In the present work, the induction of a specific antibody response to in cultures of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) was investigated, on the assumption that the capacity of circulating lymphocytes to mount a specific response may provide a useful parameter for the evaluation of protective immunity. When PBMC from normal adult donors were cultured with a heat-inactivated whole-cell suspension, cells secreting antibodies to pertussis toxin, pertactin and filamentous haemagglutinin were generated consistently. The antibody response peaked between days 7 and 11 of culture and the antibodies produced were exclusively of the IgM class.


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