Neonatal suppressor T cells were isolated from the thymuses of 10- to 14-day old BDF mice infected at birth with mouse thymic virus. Such cells were enriched for suppressive activity directed against antibody formation by adult B cells and represented a relatively homogenous population of outer cortical cells. Their surface antigen phenotype was found to be: Ly 1+, Ly 2+, TL+, Thy 1+, and H-2+. The cells were larger and contained more DNA than thymocytes from age-matched controls. These findings identify neonatal suppressor T cells as a unique subpopulation separate from most inducible suppressor cells in the adult mouse. The mechanism of action of neonatal suppressor T cells seems to be a reduction in the number of B cells initially triggered by antigen.

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