Filtered culture fluids from the early in vitro passages of a subline of the C57BL/6 mouse EL-4 lymphoma, EL-4(G-), were strongly inhibitory for BABL/c vs. C57BL/6 mixed lymphocyte cultures (MLC). The inhibitory activity could be preserved by storage at -75 degrees C or 4 degrees C, thus allowing its further characterization. The inhibitory factor was particulate (nondialyzable, sedimentable at 100,000 g for 1 h), very small (recovered after 0.10 mum filtration), sensitive to UV irradiation, but heat stable (56 degrees C, 1 h) and resistant to chloroform. It was infectious, since later, noninhibitory passages of EL-4(G-) tissue culture cells became strongly inhibitory upon inoculation with the culture fluid. This data was consistent with the inhibitory factor being an infectious virus. Virus analysis by mouse antibody production tests revealed that viruses were indeed present in EL-4(G-) ascites cells and in the culture fluid, and not in a late passage of EL-4(G-) tissue culture cells which were not inhibitory. Neutralization of the inhibitory factor was achieved by pretreatment with ascitic fluid or with the sera raised against those (EL-4(G-)-derived materials which contained viruses. Mouse reference immune sera against minute virus of mice (MVM) completely neutralized the inhibitory factor in the culture fluid or in EL-4(G-) ascites cells. Two prototype MVM strains, and one Kilham rat virus preparation, did not inhibit the mouse MLC. Thus, the possibility exists that a variant of MVM, or an unidentified virus, has been grown and selected for in EL-4(G-) cells and recognized, due to its immunosuppressive characteristics. In any event, immunosuppression by EL-4(G-) cells was not mediated by the tumor cells, their metabolic products, or associated endogenous type C viruses, but by an exogenous virus, most likely a variant MVM with immunosuppressive characteristics. This adds weight to a parallel observation from our laboratory on the immunosuppressive effects of Kilham rat virus in rat lymphocyte cultures.

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