An experimental condition was established in vivo for selectively eliminating hapten-reactive suppressor T-cell activity generated in mice primed with a para-azobenzoate (PAB)-mouse gamma globulin (MGG)-conjugate and treated with PAB-nonimmunogenic copolymer of D-amino acids (D- glutamic acid and D-lysine; D-GL). The elimination of suppressor T-cell activity with PAB-D-GL treatment from the mixed populations of hapten- reactive suppressor and helper T cells substantially increased apparent helper T-cell activity. Moreover, the inhibition of PAB-reactive suppressor T-cell generation by the pretreatment with PAB-D-GL before the PAB-MGG-priming increased the development of PAB-reactive helper T-cell activity. The analysis of hapten-specificity of helper T cells revealed that the reactivity of helper cells developed in the absence of suppressor T cells was more specific for primed PAB-determinants and their cross-reactivities to structurally related determinants such as meta-azobenzoate (MAB) significantly decreased, as compared with the helper T-cell population developed in the presence of suppressor T lymphocytes. In addition, those helper T cells generated in the absence of suppressor T cells were highly susceptible to tolerogenesis by PAB-D- GL.

Similarly, the elimination of suppressor T lymphocytes also enhanced helper T-cell activity in a polyclonal fashion in the T-T cell interactions between benzylpenicilloyl (BPO)-reactive T cells and PAB- reactive T cells after immunization of mice with BPO-MGG-PAB. Thus inhibition of BPO-reactive suppressor T-cell development by the BPO-v-GL- pretreatment resulted in augmented generation of PAB-reactive helper T cells with higher susceptibility of tolerogenesis to PAB-D-GL.

Thus, these results support the notion that suppressor T cells eventually suppress helper T-cell activity and indicate that the function of suppressor T cells related to helper T-cell development is to inhibit the increase in the specificity and apparent affinity of helper T cells in the primary immune response. The hapten-reactive suppressor and helper T lymphocytes are considered as a model system of T cells that regulate the immune response, and the potential applicability of this system to manipulating various T cell-mediated immune responses is discussed in this context.

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