Helper and suppressor T-cell activities were detected simultaneously in the spleen cells of mice immunized with para-azobenzoate (PAB)-mouse gammaglobulin (MGG). Dinitrophenyl (DNP)-specific B cells were raised by immunization with DNP-keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) and used as the indicator B-cell population. The helper and suppressor T-cell activities were determined after adoptively transferring spleen cells from PAB-MGG- primed donors and DNP-KLH-primed donors into X-irradiated recipients. Stimulation of these recipients with DNP-MGG-PAB detected helper T-cell activity, which was measured in terms of increased anti-DNP antibody responses of DNP-KLH-primed cells over these responses in the presence of unprimed cells. On the other hand, when DNP-KLH-primed cells were stimulated with DNP-KLH-PAB in the presence of PAB-MGG-primed cells, anti-DNP antibody responses were substantially lower than in unprimed normal cells.

This suppressor cell population was (a) hapten-reactive, (b) present in B-cell-depleted spleen cells, (c) Thy-1 positive, (d) detectable earlier than the helper T-cell activities after priming (e) more radiosensitive than helper cells, and (f) found in the spleen but not the lymph nodes in contrast to helper T cells. These data indicate that these suppressor T cells are distinct from the helper T cells. PAB-reactive T cells clearly suppressed the antibody response by inhibiting KLH-reactive helper T-cell functions. The hapten-reactive T-lymphocyte system described here should be useful for analyzing and manipulating the immune response and for studying regulatory interactions of helper and suppressor T cells in the induction of antibody responses.

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