Pretreatment of normal human peripheral blood lymphocytes with the plant lectin, concanavalin A (Con A), results in inhibition of blast transformation and [3H]thymidine incorporation by untreated allogeneic lymphocytes from healthy volunteers donors in one-way mixed leukocyte culture. Similarly, responses to mitogens, certain microbial antigens, and allogeneic lymphocytes are inhibited by Con A-treated allogeneic cells. Con A pretreated autologous lymphocytes can also be induced to manifest suppressor activities. This antimitotic effect occurs without evidence of cytotoxicity and is active on de novo lymphocyte responses and does not require prior sensitization of the cells being tested. Suppression of the lymphocyte response to pokeweed mitogen, a potent B-cell stimulator, by Con A-pretreated suppressor cells was not as consistent as was inhibition of response to other mitogens, including phytohemagglutinin and Con A. Furthermore, suppression of lymphocyte transformation to the microbial antigens, tuberculin purified protein derivative, and Canadida albicans extracts could be similarly induced by Con A pretreatment of either allogeneic or autologous cells. Induction of autologous suppressor activity in lymphocytes from healthy donors is compatible with a model that includes a role for suppressor cells in the modulation of the normal immune response.

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